Monday 25 April 2016

5 Suggestions for Writing Believable Male Characters

with Marilyn Forsyth

The male and female brain are hard-wired differently.
I’ve been told that the male characters I write are well-rounded and believable. Observing the mannerisms and traits of my two grown sons over the years, as well as seeing their reactions to different life situations has given me some idea of the way males think and behave, (or so I like to believe *grin*). A few years back I undertook an online course called ‘Understanding Men’ (with Dr Debra Holland, romance author and psychotherapist), which also gave credence to my own insights into the male psyche.

I’ve tried to analyse my process when writing from a male point of view and here are 5 suggestions for writing believable heroes.

gif courtesy of gify

1. Initially, a man is attracted to a woman's looks. Above all else, when he first meets the heroine, he is going to focus on her visual appeal. (It's only as the relationship unfolds that he learns to love the person inside.)

2. Men prefer to talk side by side rather than face to face. Unless a confrontation is taking place, I often try to have my hero and heroine going for a walk or a drive, or participating in an activity where they are not directly looking at one another. Also, my female characters usually talk in complete sentences while my men tend to use fragments and much shorter sentences.

gif courtesy of gify
  1. 3. In conversation with women, men focus more on the words being spoken than tone of voice or body language, so they often either miss or misread vital clues as to how the heroine is actually feeling. This can be great for comic effect, e.g. when her verbal response is sarcastic and all she wants to do is hit him over the head, he takes her smile as genuine.

4. When writing an argument between the main characters bear in mind that a man’s thought process is ‘How will I win this?’ while a woman is thinking ‘What do I have to do to make him understand?’ It’s also worth keeping in mind that, under extreme duress, a woman expresses her feelings with words, but a man is just as likely to respond with a physical action e.g. punching something.

5. A lot of men have difficulty communicating their feelings in words. They need to withdraw to their cave and/or participate in some sort of physical activity to think things through, try to solve the problem, and perhaps come up with an idea for a grand romantic gesture. A handy place for this to occur is after the Black Moment.

As authors, we create heroes we want our readers to fall in love with to the same degree we have fallen in love with them. And because we write heroes as we’d like them to be (a man who shows integrity, loyalty, and a willingness to protect the woman he’s come to love), they can be a little too good to be true. But if you have your hero exhibiting some typical male traits throughout the story, you’re on your way to creating believable male characters.

Who is your favourite book boyfriend and what do you love most about him? (No prizes for guessing who mine is :) )

Love to Love all my fabulous friends and family who attended the book launch for 'The Farmer's Perfect Match'. I had the best time! So glad my lovely hubby talked me into having it.

Love to Laugh at the crazy situation created by the poll to name Britain's latest polar research vessel. 'Boaty McBoatface' won by about 90 000 votes. I love it! (But, sadly, I can't see it happening.)

Love to Learn via online writing courses because I don't have to get dressed. RWA has some fabulous OWLs coming up. I particularly like the look of Sandy Vaile's 'Treat Backstory Like a Pungent Spice', starting on June 6th. Find out about more OWLs (Online Workshop List) here:

It would be remiss to let ANZAC Day pass by without acknowledging all those unsung heroes who fought to protect the way of life that we here in Australia are so privileged to live today.

Lest we forget.

Monday 18 April 2016

Finding Your Writer’s Voice

By Maggi Andersen

You can follow Maggi on Twitter here

When I first began writing to publish some years ago, the first bit of advice I was offered at university was to ‘write what you know’. Was I to write a sort of autobiography? I hated the idea. The stories I wanted to write were not about me, or so I thought. But to ‘write what you know’ isn’t about the events in your life, it’s about the emotions you’ve experienced. Whether it be love, loss, longing, disappointment or jealousy. Have you ever wanted something so badly you might have killed for it (metaphorically speaking, of course)?

It doesn’t matter whether you set your story where you live or on the other side of the world–as I did with my first novel. If you’re drawing from your own personal emotional experiences, your readers will feel it. And hopefully, your characters will leap off the page!

A good way I found initially, was to free-write. Just let go and let the words flow. Interesting what can come from that. And even years later, my first drafts can be a bit wild. I like to experiment, because I can always take it back a peg or two, and fear can be a good motivator. It forces you to write about something that matters, and releases the unique quality we all have, our voice.

Voice, I believe, is not only a unique way of putting words together, but a unique emotional response, and a distinctive way of looking at the world. Publishers want to read an author who has an original voice. When you settle down to read your favorite writer, you know what to expect from them, their voice is recognizable in their syntax, in their descriptive world building, in their emotions, and in their basic outlook on life.

For newbie writers, I say express yourself in your own unique way. We don’t talk exactly like anyone else, so why should we write like everyone else?

All those years I spent reading Georgette Heyer, who set her characters in a charming world with such clarity and delightful humour, might have developed my voice for writing Regency romance. I hope so. I love writing them.

My Regency series features two families, the Brandreths (who first appeared in the Spies of Mayfair series) and the Baxendales five daughters. The two estates run together in Tunbridge Wells, a town frequented by the ton. They’ve become one big family since two Baxendale daughters married Brandreth sons. Each novella in The Baxendale Sisters revolves a young lady’s come-out and the trials she must face before she can marry the man of her dreams.

Buy Maggi's books here

Love to Love... Books on ‘plotting and structuring your novel’, but never seem to apply it to my work.

Love to Laugh... funny memes and pictures on Facebook.

Source: Funny Pictures Facebook Page.

Love to Learn... How to promote my books on a shoestring, and spend no more than an hour a week. That’s a work in progress.

Here’s an (unedited) sneak peek from Maggi's latest book, The Seduction of Lady Charity. The fourth book in the Baxendale Sisters series is released 20th April.

Lady Charity Baxendale has long dreamed of becoming a renowned portrait painter. After two significant commissions from esteemed family members, a rakish Scottish baron commissions her to paint his portrait, and she feels she is one step closer to that dream. When Robin, Lord Stanberry, with whom Charity has had a long friendship, asks her to marry him, she must choose between marriage and her career. He is heir to a dukedom, and Charity fears she would be unsuited to life as a duchess, and her burgeoning career would end before it begins. And besides, Robin has made no mention of love.

Due to tragic, unforeseen circumstances, Robin is now the Duke of Harwood. He feels himself unfitted for such a position. Robin was perfectly content living as a viscount in Tunbridge Wells, writing a book on ornithology. He’d hoped to have Charity at his side by the time he took his place at Harwood Castle in Northumberland, for her pragmatic nature and strength of character would be of enormous help to him. Should he have thrown himself at her feet and declared an undying love? Charity would have seen through it, for that was not the sort of friendship they enjoyed. But her refusal has brought him lower than he’d thought possible. Could he change her mind, despite the distance that now lay between them?

You can check out more of Maggi's books on Maggi Andersen's website

Or you can follow Maggi on her Facebook page