Monday, 29 August 2011

MONDAY MAGIC - Tanith Davenport

Writing as a man

When I write, I tend to stick to one POV, which is generally female for ease of identification. However, the story and themes I was using in The Hand He Dealt meant a second POV was needed - that of Astra's boyfriend Harry, who unsurprisingly is a man.

This was a challenge for me. Not being a man, I have no idea what a cock or a prostate feels like from the other end. Researching this issue is also tricky. I tried asking the fella about it and got "Uh... it feels good?" Although, having read part of the book (I don't think I'll ever get him to finish the thing) he told me that a comment I'd made about how "he couldn't feel it, not really" - in reference to my heroine tonguing her boyfriend through his boxers - was probably unrealistic since, once hard, every nerve ending in the body is directed into the penis, or something to that effect.

My other source of information was slash fiction, which I used to read a lot of online. Depending on the story, it can be very mild or extremely graphic, and since I don't read femmeslash my reading was focussed entirely on men. It was certainly helpful and gave me plenty of ideas for prostate-related moments, but for the most part it does have one potential flaw - the vast majority of what I read was written by women.

Which can result in that character I call the Girly Man.

To quote Minotaur's Sex Tips for Slash Writers:

One thing to be wary of is writing one partner as the "wife". Men, even gay men, are trained to be less emotionally open, less demonstrative. Yes, we do feel, and even occasionally cry, but gay men are every bit as emotionally closeted as their straight counterparts. Think of all the troubles you have in your relationships with men, and then double them. Instead of just one partner being distant, uncommunicative and emotionally stunted, both are.

Obviously in my case I wasn't writing about a gay relationship, but my concern was Harry losing his masculinity. Harry is a fairly emotional man, in comparison with Ash who is much more the "emotionally closeted" type noted by Minotaur, but it was still important that he remain true to character and not become tainted by my own female perspective.

Is this a challenge for other writers? How does everyone else write as a man while keeping an authentic voice?


Thanks so much for joining us today Tanith!

I have to agree it is a challenge writing from the male POV. I am lucky to have 5 males in my house to draw on. I often will run a thought or dialogue phrase passed them to check if a guy would think or say that. It's quite helpful..I mean, they are so very different to us in the way they think. I also think that sometimes we want to read about how we WANT a man to be rather than how they are...sure it's unrealistic , but it's a nice fantasy LOL

You can buy Tanith's fabulous book by clicking on the cover!


Jenn said...

Excellent points here. A lot to think about when going for that 2nd point of view.

Ellis Carrington said...

I write m/m and am a woman so this is a common concern for me. I actually try to have every manuscript I put out reviewed by at least one man before I submit it, and I work hard to study what I can about male psychology, I listen hard when guys talk about fights with their SO's and how they handle them, etc. :P It isn't easy, and it's an easy trap to fall into to write about a guy handling a problem the way you *a woman* would. I've had my critique partner (a man) come back to me and say "no guy would ever say that." Oops! I think a woman who writes the male POV does have to work extra hard for accuracy.

Jacqueline said...

Switching genders is not easy, but can be done, especially using male reviewers. However, there is a trap looming for writers of both f/m and m/m relationships. That is - the readership is largely female and, believe me, most of them do not want reality.

If you are reading for a little light fantasy, perhaps you really don't want to look in between a man's ears and sympathise with his 'any pussy will do, as long as it's available' attitude.

Some m/m romance bears as much relation to reality as modern vampire stories, but it sells.

Naomi Bellina said...

I get some of the best comments from men and try to file them away for future use. They are, after all from Mars, a planet very different from our Venus!

Summer Fey Foovay said...

I'm physically female but my mindset is very mannish. Hubby even says I'm really a boy (a teen boy, he says) Men have read my work (written anonymously or under a pen name) and believed I was a man. One gay website owner I wrote m/m short stories for actually believed I was a gay man. I have more trouble writing women characters - because I really don't understand the female mentality - LOL. But it is certainly something to consider. I remember reading a novel not long ago with a woman protagonist and being surprised to flip back to the cover and suddenly remember the author was a man. Learning to write as the opposite sex or to understand them well enough to write about them is one of those things we have to learn in order to master our craft. However, you also want to consider your audience. As Jacqueline said, if you are writing primarily romantic fantasy for women, they will be very happy with the fantasy man who understands them like no real man ever has (or probably will - unless he is gay and unavailable LOL)