Laura Haley-McNeil

1/5/20, Writing the Male Character


When I first started writing romance, a thousand years ago, I had a discussion in one of my critique groups about writing the male character. It was important to us to portray a male character that looked, acted and sounded like a man.

Romance Readers

I you ask romance readers what  qualities they like in male characters, they often say the dark and brooding type. They love the bad boys. If he rides a motorcycle, even better. Not everyone agrees with this, but a good portion of romance readers do, which brings me to my point of what I want to accomplish as a woman portraying a male character. I want to make sure that when I’m writing the male character that who I’m developing is truly a man in the way he speaks and thinks and falls in love. When I read a character who meets that criteria, I study him. It’s important to understand how the author created this character. What did this author do to make this character appeal to me?

Romance Novels

I’ve read romance novels where the male character might be more like a woman. His actions and responses are what I see as a woman would act or respond. These novels are popular so I understand romance readers relate to these characters, but I’m not part of that  market. No man has ever sat me down and said, “Let’s talk about your feelings.” No, the men in my life usually get glassy eyed when I start to pour out my heart to them. They get restless. Their attention drifts. That’s what I’m used to and that’s what I want to read. Fiction  is the suspension of belief. My belief is not suspended when a male character wants to talk, especially about a woman’s feelings.

What Women Want

I feel the same about male authors who write female characters. These women usually have perfect features, tight little bodies and can slip in and out of a sexual relationship with no emotional attachment. Male followers of these authors want to read about women like that, but again, it suspends my level of belief beyond my capability. I know no woman like this and writing a woman to appease a male fantasy is annoying.  Because of this, I rarely read books by male authors. That could be why.

Let women be women and men be men, then I can move past the characterization and focus on the plot which is the reason I read fiction. I want to know what’s going to happen.

What Do You Want?

Maybe you have different ideas about male and female characterization, which is what makes this discussion interesting. There are millions of authors out there and as readers we’ll find someone who writes the characters we find relatable.

I hope you have a wonderful and blessed week and are reading a book with the type of characters you enjoy. If so, please share.