Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dear Joe

To the contractor today in Starbucks who was pitching his job quote to a potential client: I'm sorry. I couldn't help eavesdropping. It really had nothing to do with your decidedly non-local dialect or that sprawling sun tattoo on your forearm or the fact that my characters had left me iced and unfocused for several days. Mostly, it was your gender.

See, I took this class not long ago on how to write male characters in a romance novel so they're believable. Authentic. And I'm not one for absolutes, but certain things stuck in my brain. Like the fact that men rarely end a statement with a question. So when my hero, in the course of a heated conversation, committed this dialogue foul three times, I was concerned he'd have to check his man card at the door.

Exhibit A:

"That's what happened to my father, isn't it?"

I'm told men don't speak like this. I saw you there in your print screened concrete manufacturing shirt, and I looked to you for authority. You're everyday Joe. I was listening for something definitive. Permission for my hero to ask that question about his father. Yes, he could phrase it differently, but that would mean giving into absolutes. I wanted you to ask something like, "We could take down the wall there, don't you think?" or "You can stay the night somewhere else, can't you?" But you never did, Joe. Not once did you end on a question because that would be playing your I'm-not-sure-about-this card, and it would have lacked confidence. Confidence is the number one prerequisite for a contractor. And a romance novel hero. But you probably already knew that.

It's a fine line, Joe. Striking a balance between the authentic male and the one we women fantasize about that doesn't belch the alphabet or scratch himself in public. You, sir, were my hero today for just being you. I hope you got the job.


Subby said...

Hmmmm...seems everone I know (at least here in Massachusetts ), talks like this ( both male and female )...

I was going to add "y'know what I mean?" to that...'tis a hard habit to break, especially when one is totally oblivious to it...

Regina Richards said...

I can't recall my dh ending a sentence with a question, but now I'll be listening to see if it ever happens.

the walking man said...

Real men never question anything we just make assumptions and then take them as absolute truth.

Charles Gramlich said...

I may have to give up my American man card. I think I'll keep the genetically male one though. I feel most comfortable that way.

L.A. Mitchell said...

@Subby-Really? That's good to know. My character is all Jersey, but without the hair ;)

@Regina-I'm just not sure about the whole absolutes thing. I left one in my manuscript as a statement of defiance! ;)

@walkingman-now THAT, I take as gospel. So true *shakes head*

@Charles-Mr. Leather Chaps, I don't think you can escape the American thing.:)