Friday, July 26, 2013

Wednesday Writers Tips - How girls can write boy-talk

Dang, I hit SAVE instead of PUBLISH. Sorry if you followed my links and got nowhere... here it is now. 

Men tend to make statements rather than ask questions.

I came across this revelation few years ago and it has stuck in my head so that every time I write a man's dialogue I think of this advice. Thing is, I couldn't remember which of my books it came from. Then last night, as I was flipping through one of my books, serindipity! There it was.

I tried this advice with one of my Beta Heroes and, wow, it made him stronger and more sure of himself. I couldn't believe the difference knowing this one little tip had on my hero.

So today's tip is for women writing male dialogue. It is from On Writing Romance - How To Craft A Novel That Sells by Leigh Michaels. In Chapter Twelve - Writing Dialogue and Introspection, subheading Gender-Specific Dialogue, Ms. Michaels has advice for women writing heroes' dialogue.

Writing a character of the opposite gender can be difficult, but if you check it against this list, your dialogue will be more convincing.

Check for questions. Men tend to request specific information, rather than ask rhetorical questions. If your hero's questions can't be answered with a brief response, can you rephrase them? Instead of asking questions at all, can he make statements?
Check for explanations. Men tend to resist explaining; they generally don't volunteer justification for what they do. If you need him to explain, can you give a reason why he must?
Check for feelings. Men tend to share feelings only if stressed or forced; they're more likely to show anger than any other emotion. They generally don't volunteer feelings. If you need your hero to spill how he's feeling, can you make it more painful for him to not talk than to share his emotions?

There are three more checks to make, too.

Check for details. Men tend not to pay close attention to details. Check for abstractions. Men tend to avoid euphemisms, understatements, comparisons and metaphors. Check for approval-seeking behavior. Men tend to be direct rather than ask for validation of approval. 

More detail in the book, of course.

To write realistic dialogue, Ms. Michaels suggests: Eavesdrop (politely) as real people talk. Can you guess their relationship? Write dialogue and check it against the checklist. Read your dialogue aloud. Listen to someone else read your dialogue aloud.

This chapter (and the book) is chock full of great writing advice. And don't fret guys, there's advice for men writing women's dialogue. I'll post those tips next Wednesday.

I have several flags marking places to return to to study more in my copy of this book.

On Writing Romance by Leigh Michaels

I also reviewed the chapter on Maintaining Tension. I don't usually review the same book twice but I found this Wednesday's tip left such an impression on me that I wanted to share it, too.

My writing craft bookshelf.

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