Joining us today is Tara Sue Me, author of the Submissive Trilogy. Tara's upcoming release, The Dominant, is told from the point of view of Nathaniel West, the hero (and the Dom) from Tara's first release, The Submissive. Tara is sharing some of her thoughts about writing and reading male points of view. Thanks, Tara!
As an author, I find it easier to write from a woman’s point of view. But as a reader, I want to know what the hero’s thinking, what he’s feeling, and what his motives are. My writer self recognizes most readers feel the same, so writing the hero’s point of view becomes a necessity.
The biggest challenge in writing the hero’s point of view is, of course, that I’m not a man. I know lots of men, naturally, I’m married to one, and I have a son. But knowing a man isn’t the same as being a man. Nonetheless, as women writers, we have to do our best to enter into and share with our readers that dark and unknown territory known as a man’s brain.
1. Make it Realistic. Almost no man I know would be able to recite designer, exact color, and store of purchase of the gown the heroine’s wearing unless he was told. Most men just know it’s a skimpy black dress. And that she looks hot wearing it.
A great example of this is Max’s interactions with Sara in Beautiful Stranger by Christina Lauren:
“What are you doing here?”
I looked up to find a very surprised Sara frozen halfway down the hall. I couldn’t help breaking into a grin; this really was my lucky day.
Or…not, if her expression was any indication.
“Sara!” I sang. “What a lovely surprise. I was just at a meeting. I’m Max, by the way. Pleasure to finally put a name to the” – I dropped my eyes and studied her chest, and then the rest of her, through her snug black dress – “face.”
Christ, she was hot.
When I looked back up, her eyes had grown to roughly the size of dinner plates. Honestly, the woman had the most enormous brown eyes. If they were any bigger, she’d be a lemur.
She grabbed my arm, pulling me down a hallway, her fitted knee-high boots clacking on the stone tiles.
2. But Not Too Realistic. Again, I’m not an expert in men’s thoughts, but I have a feeling he’s not really thinking what we think/hope that he’s thinking. Odds are when you ask what’s on his mind and he says, “Nothing” he’s probably telling the truth. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it makes for a horribly boring book.
Writing dialogue, especially between two men, is also a challenge. In Walking Disaster, told entirely from the hero’s point of view, author Jamie McGuire does a great job in showing male interaction:
“You’re falling for her, aren’t you?” I asked, punching Shepley in the arm.
He shoved me. “None of your business, dick.”
“Does she have a sister?”
“She’s an only child. Leave her friends alone, too, Trav. I mean it.”
Shepley’s last words were unnecessary. His eyes were a billboard for his emotions and thoughts most of the time, and he was clearly serious – maybe even a little desperate. He wasn’t just falling for her. He was in love.
“You mean Abby.”
He frowned. “I mean any of her friends. Even Finch. Just stay away.”
“Cousin!” I said, hooking my elbow around his neck. “Are you in love? You’re making me all misty-eyed!”
3. Make Him Flawed. We like our men to be just a little flawed, don’t we? Even if he comes across as a Grade A Alpha to the heroine, we like the ability to peek inside his mind to know he’s not as indestructible as he comes across. As a reader, it makes him more realistic and relatable. As a writer, it just gives me fun ways to torment him.
In Tiffany Reisz’s The Angel, we find Michael, who isn’t an Alpha male, but whose flaws have the reader pulling for him all the same:
Sicko…pervert…freak. His father had said them all. When his mother tried to defend him against his father, saying Michael was just young and confused, his father had hit her too. The fighting had become an everyday thing, until his dad finally just up and moved out. Michael’s mom had gone into shell shock and still hadn’t completely recovered from it. The night Michael slashed his wrists it was with one thought in mind: maybe if he died his parents wouldn’t have anything to fight about anymore.
4. Have Him Grow From the Flaws. There’s nothing I like more in a book then when I meet the hero and heroine for the first time and think, “There is no way these two are ever getting together.” Watching the hero grow is interesting from the heroine’s eyes, but it’s when you get inside his head that his motives start to make sense. Plus it’s fun to see the Alpha male soften just a bit, even if it is only in his mind.
Whether he’s a tormented artist, a wounded SEAL, or a CEO with skeletons in his closet (literal skeletons, I’m sure he has a good reason) as women we love to get a peek inside the hero’s mind. And seeing the journey through his eyes makes the love story even sweeter.
Tara Sue Me is the author of The Submissive Trilogy, including The Submissive, The Dominant and The Training. She lives in the southeastern United States with her family, two dogs, and a cat. Visit her online at www.tarasueme.com, www.facebook.com/TaraSueMeBooks or www.twitter.com/tarasueme.