Ever have a contest judge tell you your guys don't sound like guys?
Did they use the words : girly, wimpy or the dreaded feminine to describe your Alpha Male, your Reluctant Hero, your Beta Man?
So maybe you need a leetle help in the Guy department.
There are lots of ways to learn Guy.
Observe the species in the wild. Eavesdrop.
Do your homework with books and movies. Understanding the basic mental differences between men and women can help you write Guy.
10 Big Differences Between Men's and Women's Brains by Amber Hensley
Or check out Madame Zelda's Characterization techniques to channel your Guy.
I have a few favorite Guy Flicks. These movies really help you get into the Guy psyche.
Transporter (1, 2 and 3)
Bourne (all of them)
Die Hard (any and all)
Feel free to add to my list.
One of my absolute favorite books on the topic is Dave Barry's Complete Guide To Guys
It's a terrific and hilarious peek into a guy's mind. (Yes, scary too.)
A little joke from the book:
Let's say a guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.
And then, one evening when they're driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: ''Do you realize that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?''
And then there is silence in the car. To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: Gee, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he's been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I'm trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn't want, or isn't sure of.
And Roger is thinking: Gosh. Six months.
And Elaine is thinking: But, hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I'd have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward . . . I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?
And Roger is thinking: . . . so that means it was . . . let's see . . ...February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer's, which means . . . lemme check the odometer . . . Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.
And Elaine is thinking: He's upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I'm reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed -- even before I sensed it -- that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that's it. That's why he's so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He's afraid of being rejected.
And Roger is thinking: And I'm gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don't care what those morons say, it's still not shifting right. And they'd better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It's 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a $#@% garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.
And Elaine is thinking: He's angry. And I don't blame him. I'd be angry, too. God, I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can't help the way I feel. I'm just not sure.
And Roger is thinking: They'll probably say it's only a 90-day warranty. That's exactly what they're gonna say, the scumballs.
And Elaine is thinking: Maybe I'm just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I'm sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of myself-centered, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.
And Roger is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I'll give them a $#@% warranty. I'll take their warranty and stick it right up their ...
''Roger,'' Elaine says aloud.
''What?'' says Roger, startled.
''Please don't torture yourself like this,'' she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. ''Maybe I should never have . . Oh God, I feel so ...'' (She breaks down, sobbing.)
''What?'' says Roger.
''I'm such a fool,'' Elaine sobs. ''I mean, I know there's no knight. I really know that. It's silly. There's no knight, and there's no horse.''
''There's no horse?'' says Roger.
''You think I'm a fool, don't you?'' Elaine says.
''No!'' says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer.
''It's just that . . . It's that I . . . I need some time,'' Elaine says.
(There is a 15-second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.)
"Yes,'' he says.
(Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand.)
''Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way?'' she says.
''What way?'' says Roger.
''That way about time,'' says Elaine.
''Oh,'' says Roger. ''Yes.'' (Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse.
(At last she speaks.)
''Thank you, Roger,'' she says.
''Thank you,'' says Roger.
Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn, whereas when Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it's better if he doesn't think about it. (This is also Roger's policy regarding world hunger.)
The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.
Meanwhile, Roger, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Elaine's, will pause just before serving, frown, and say: ''Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?''
--Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys
Seeker Tips to Writing Guy
1. Glynna Kaye: I don't let him get too wordy. Or wax too poetic.
2. Camy Tang:
Short sentences and simple words--flowery sentences are not manly.
And if all else fails, I ask my husband if a guy would say XXX. He usually tweaks it into some sports reference.
3. Mary Connealy:
"I always under dialogue my guy. Women talk things through-Men think things through.
I often cut the guys dialogue several times to make it terse. Have them grunt on occasion. Have them think a whole bunch of stuff then just say, "No."
To have him announce decisions rather than discuss how he's coming to the decision."
4. Janet Dean:
Dialogue tips: My heroes tend to use shorter sentences and leave off words. Instead of "It sounds expensive." They'd say, "Sounds expensive." They use last names for other males when they're talking or thinking about them, even themselves. Whoa, Jacobs instead of Whoa, Luke. They use fewer adjectives or flowery words. They tend to give orders instead of making requests, which can get them in trouble. :-) Occasionally I like to have them say, "Yes, ma'am." to add levity or show good manners.
Description: I give my heroes broad shoulders, rippling muscles, large forearms and hands and thick hair, but other details like hair and eye color and height vary.
5. Ruth Logan Herne:
I love 'mini' movements, like the Richard Gere squint, the jaw muscle twitch of Harrison Ford, the slight incline of chin of Mark Harmon as Gibbs in NCIS, the direct stare that sets feminine hearts a-twitching...
Male sensuality exudes from understated actions in a lot of cases, so I try to employ that.
They have to have a sense of humor to accompany the sexy quirks, otherwise they're just not worth the bother. ;)
6. Pam Hillman:
My heroes stomp, stride, or saunter. They do not mince, tiptoe, or glide. They growl, grumble, or drawl. They do not shriek, squeal, or screech. A lot of this "tough man" description is seen and/or heard in the heroine's pov. It's in the movement and the words. Even a slow, quiet loner can have those Clint Eastwood moves: swagger, narrowing of the eyes, squint, smirk, cocked hip. Then when somebody like that does strike out (like drawing a gun, or throwing a punch), it looks and feels like lightening!
Instead of walking: "Jake’s long legs ate up the distance as he stomped out his rounds, the thoughts in his head swirling faster than the snow flurries from the week before."
Instead of knocking: "Jake rapped his knuckles on the kitchen door."
7. Julie Lessman:
Think football: muscles, sweat, grunts, and monosyllables. Athletes don't meander all over the field -- they focus on one thing like a heat-seeking missile. Writing guys is much the same way -- with dialogue, internal monologue and actions. Dialogue? Guys talk in clipped, straight-forward language and sentences, not with explanations and feelings like women do. Internal monologue/thoughts? Never sentimental and pining like a girl's, but focused on one thing, be it his anger, his attraction or his regret. Men never belabor a point or give much thought to it like women do. And actions? Usually stubborn, casual and sometimes gruff. Gentleness is okay, but only when you have a major streak of something more dominant that tips the balance toward all male.
8. Myra Johnson:
I like to write my guy characters with a touch of humor, no matter how serious the story is. Maybe a klutzy thing that shows how much they really need a woman in their life. Or a hint of irony in their outlook or speech. Able to laugh at themselves. Not too much ego but a solid sense of their own identity. Strong when it counts.
9. Audra Harders:
In creating a hero, I start by assessing the qualities I need for him to have. That's the easy part I spend time listening to country music, especially Chris LeDoux and George Strait (who better to create cowboy images??). As the hero gels in my head, I start thinking about movie characters and end up watching a specific movie featuring a character with specific traits -- not necessarily cowboy character, actually, I rarely watch cowboy characters at all. Then, once I find the male character, I watch that movie over and over and over again until I see him, hear him, smell him in my sleep. Once I've *digested* him --or devoured, which ever works -- it's easy for me to transfer those traits into the character I'm working with. I find this gives him a dimension I can't create by just sitting down at the computer and conjuring up a hero.
Ha, I"m not going to give away all my secrets, but you'd never guess what kind of characters I get stuck on and turn into heroes in my books : )
10. Missy Tippens:
Most guys worry about being good providers or being successful at their work. When I'm getting inside their heads, I usually make them worry about things that have to do with their pride. They're going to worry about looking inept in front of the heroine. They worry about being worthy in her parents' eyes. Or worry that they can give her whatever it is she needs.
Any questions? Okay, let's Write Guy.
Tina Radcliffe has been scribbling for years. She's sold dozens of short stories to magazines such as the Trues and Woman's World. In 2010 she achieved her goal of selling her novel length fiction to Love Inspired. The Rancher's Reunion was a January 2011 release and Oklahoma Reunion will be an October 2011 release.
She believes you should never, ever, give up on your dreams. When she's not working the day job, or writing, which is the dream job, she plans world domination with Mary Connealy. Or possibly just Nebraska.
This post first appeared in Seekerville 10/16/2009
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