Last week I wrote a post about how to write a female character I don’t want to punch in the tit. That’s paraphrasing, of course. Women are hard to write. There’s no denying that. We contain multitudes, after all. But it can’t be overlooked that one must take care while writing males. It’s very easy to sort of gloss over them if you have a female main character. Particularly if you are, in fact, a female. But it doesn’t have to be. I’m a bit partial. Two of my favorite characters I’ve ever written are of the male persuasion. Two of my top three, in fact. So never fear. Here are a few ways to keep from going insane while writing the less fair sex.
Please. Don’t make them emotionally fucking inept. I see this a lot. And I get the basis of it. Sort of. Men tend to be less outwardly emotional than women are. But that isn’t to say there aren’t sappy men and more analytic women in this world. But no one human being is ever purely either. He doesn’t have to be full of rainbows and puppies and hugs–though it’s alright if he is. Just give your man some emotional depth, for fuck’s sake. This won’t make him weak, it will make him relatable.
Men tend to be problem solvers.This may be a bit of a broad, sweeping sort of generalization. I don’t mean it to overly simplify. It isn’t a hard and fast rule, rather a guideline. When a man is faced with a problem, he seeks a solution. A woman comes home from a very hard day at work. Her body aches. She tells her gentlemen as much, and he reminds her where the ibuprofen is. Yes. She already knew that. But he’s just trying to be practical. This tends to be something that’s true of more men than not. A sort of well-intentioned simplifying of the world around them.
Men compartmentalize. For the most part, at least. Men try to separate things in their lives. Work. Love. Family. Etc., etc,. Because it makes things easier to deal with. As a little disclaimer, most of the women I know do not do this. Women are multi-taskers. Which can lead to spreading oneself too thin, but that’s a whole other issue. Men take care of things one at a time. As they pop up. Which does, in fact, make sense. Unlike other male behaviors.
Listening skills. I’m sorry to stereotype. It kind of goes against a lot of things I’ve preached on about while I’m here. But I am basing this on most of the men I know, if not all of them. As much as I love the less fair sex (sorry guys), they really do just want the short version. And that’s the version of things they’ll give as well. That isn’t to say they’re less intelligent, or that they don’t care. It’s just the way they are. Women embellish when they tell stories. They include all sorts of extraneous detail. Men do not. This doesn’t make either better. It just is.
Don’t make them do morally reprehensible things and call it being a guy. Just like in the real world. For the love of the goddess. This seeps into fiction simply because art imitates life. While you do sometimes have to write the sort of man who catcalls, you should never glorify it. Or overly simplify behaviors that are very simply socially and morally unacceptable, regardless of context. You can show people doing shitty things without agreeing with them. But it’s a fine line.
Making him pigheaded doesn’t make him strong. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have a stubborn character. Male or female, that doesn’t really matter. But you’re slipping into a truly fatal mistake. You’re putting all of a group of people into a lump together. Don’t do that. No one is that simple. If you reduce your male character to a group of generalizations, he isn’t going to be interesting. He isn’t going to be likable. He’s going to be a pain in the balls to write.
I suppose that one rule from my previous post does carry over rather nicely. The key to writing male characters, my lovely ladies, is remembering one little detail. Men are just people. They’re complex, they’re sometimes strange, they’re occasionally confusing as all hell. Just like female characters. But that’s just the way I like my characters to be. And my people. Just a little screwy.