Writing Romance (as a man)
Jan 9, 2019
The writing world is still a sexist industry. That's not anyone's fault, that's just the way it is. It's just not possible to change people's personal preferences and tastes. Some women have told me they would never read a romance written by a man. And I would be unlikely to read a book regarding submarine warfare written by Betty Juggs. Such is life. So it is a mountain I must climb, but hopefully I can appeal to those wanting a change from the fire-breathing alpha males or a bubble gum romance.
There was a line in the movie "DC CAB" where a Hispanic guy with an open shirt displaying his abundantly hairy chest and wearing a gold medallion repeatedly states: "It's tough to be a man, baby." This is especially true when a male takes on the task of writing romance. I know. My name's Travis and I'm a closet romanticist. Since I'm bearing my unmanly soul, I may as well admit I like ABBA as well. So that's me off the Alpha list. Anyway…
Why do I write romance? For one thing, it's the only time I can control what a woman thinks, says, and does. That's worth it on its own. While I write romantic comedies which are not quite so frilly, but love is always a central theme in my books. Except for nuns and priests, the vast majority of people want to meet their soulmate – someone to share life with. And many of us have experienced the ups and downs of looking for love, or having it bestowed upon us whether we're looking for it or not. So for me it seems quite natural to write about romance. It's a constant factor in life. The romance formula is actually quite simple. It's about two people falling in love. However, how the author gets those two people together, now that's the fun part.
Men, in general, have to step out of their comfort zone to write effective romance. The male perspective of romance is a chick in a ponytail and wearing a baseball cap. She brings her fella a beer and rubs his back while he watches the football. Men don't require a complex character. A 36-24-35 non-speaking bombshell will usually do the trick.
Women, on the other hand, are less likely to settle for a one-dimensional character. They want to delve into the feelings and thought side of a relationship. When a female character asks her male counterpart, "What ya thinkin'?" the female reader expects a more elaborate answer than, "If I wanted you to know what I was thinking, I'd be talking."
Since I write my books with a female audience in mind, I have to work harder to keep those feeling and emotional aspects in the forefront. When a woman writes a sex scene, it's hot. When a guy writes a sex scene, he's a perv. For a guy, sex tends to be a physical act. For a woman it's an emotional one. Writing from a male point of view (POV) it's impossible to remove the physical side of it otherwise it sounds like a woman trying to write like a guy – or the guy sounds totally gay and has no place in the sex scene anyway. I have trained myself to incorporate more emotions from the fella and get him to acknowledge his feelings in front of the reader.
Left to my own devices, I could give women what they want, theoretically speaking. Oh yes. They like their men to growl and the women to purr. The Alpha male taking control and dominating the vulnerable woman, pulling her ponytail and throwing her to the bed for mad, passionate lovemaking, while she screams, "Treat me like a whore, Batman!" Wait. *Travis lights a cigarette.* See the male problem? It just kind of slipped in there before I was even aware what was happening. Let's back up and throw a few thoughts in there so the woman knows he respects her. Right?
So, romance isn't all about, umm…it…for lack of a better word, where the woman reader is concerned. Being fiction, she wants an escape from reality. This being the case, the man needs to be considerate. Tough in the face of adversity, yet gentle and caring enough to change a baby's diaper without being asked. He probably cooks and cleans the house when he's not out doing his spy work. He puts her feelings before his own. A male writer must suspend his beliefs from reality and concentrate on the fairytale aspects of love to be considered truly romantic.