But that means writing from a man’s POV. Writers have always written from the perspective of the opposite sex. I mean, you can’t expect a woman writer to only write from a woman’s POV and vice versa. In romance, most of us are trying to write something that feels authentic, but there’s also an element of fantasy, or idealism at least, in our portrayal.
So, how does one write from a man’s point of view? My approach has always grown out of each individual character. For instance, Ian (Tempt Me and Keep Me) is a smart guy, but I didn't make him overly sensitive or perceptive. He really cares about Nina but he's often at a loss as to what's going on in her head and what to do about it. Jason (Stirred Up) is a teacher who understands people pretty well, and he's probably the most sensitive guy I've written, though he's also lusty and crazy hot for Cheryl. Cutter (Set Loose) is stoic, so while he's pretty perceptive, he says a lot less than he feels. This is true of most men.
I often think about my husband when I'm writing a man's character. While he can read me pretty well, he's not comfortable articulating emotions or even telling me what's on his mind at lot of the time. Pretty typical. Oftentimes after we've had a fight (which of course are always his fault) instead of apologizing he shows me he's sorry by being attentive – turning up the heat so that I'm warm enough, making dinner. He's more comfortable with action than words.
For most men, less is more, so when revising I often cut back dialogue that goes on too long. Or I take out parts that make them sound too evolved. If a guy's too perfect, there's less tension and confusion, and less to write about.
I'm writing the kinds of books I like to read, and given that they're written for women, I'm under no illusions that men will read them and think, "Yes, she got that exactly right." But I'm trying to make men who feel real and jump off the page. I now have a male beta reader, so if I do something that work for him, I expect he'll point it out. As does my critique partner, Abby. For instance, in my new book I had Jesse thinking to himself that he was stinky, and she pointed out that he wouldn't use a word like that. She was totally right, and I changed it to sweaty. (Jesse works up a good sweat when he's on stage.)
I read a book not too long ago by an author I really like, and in it the hero noticed that the woman was wearing a beautiful blue sheath. As in dress. Just that one word choice took me right out of the story because no man, unless he’s a fashion designer, is going to think the word “sheath.” Few women would either, for that matter. It's amazing how one little word or detail can throw a book off or make you doubt the author. I can only hope that doesn't happen with my books, or that if it does, my readers forgive me. (Please forgive me!)
I read many stories where the heroes are amazing and insightful, understanding so much from their beloved’s face just by the look in her eye. I love that kind of thing, but sometimes it can go too far and it’s hard to believe the guy is for real, even for a romance. But where’s the line?
I suppose it all goes back to the characters and the story the author created. Maybe a guy is too good to be true. And let's face it, if it's a romance, that's pretty much always the case. As long as the book feels true and makes us swoony, it's all good.
Very, very good.