Writing Male Characters
Tips for writing realistic male characters in your fiction
This was originally published on Sarah Hoyt’s blog.
Writing is hard. For one, there’s a seemingly infinite combination of letters, but only a small subset of them make any sense. To demonstrate, I’ll just bang on my keyboard a bit.
See? That doesn’t make any sense. It takes a lot of work to get all those letters in the right order.
And the other hard part about writing is creating realistic characters — really believable people. Now, one thing everyone can do easily is write female characters. That’s because women are very simple. Women like it when you compliment their hair, and their main motivation in life is obtaining more shoes. That’s really all you have to know to write a realistic female character.
But men are more complex, and that’s why I think a lot of people write male characters who aren’t very believable. But I have some tips here that will help you write some male characters who seem to jump out off the page.
TIPS ON WRITING MALE CHARACTERS
* Duty is important. One of the main motivators of male characters is duty. Duty is what gives men purpose, and a sense of duty should be the driving factor in any story. The only problem with duty is that when it’s said out loud, it sounds a lot like “doody” and makes men laugh. So while duty should be important to the story, it should never actually be said or it’s going to derail everything with snickering.
* Few emotions. You may think, “I’m going to write a really passionate character pulled to his limit by extreme circumstances.” Well, not if you’re writing a male character, because men aren’t big on feelings. You tell a male character, “Barbarians sacked and destroyed your home village killing everyone!” his first reaction will be just to sort of grunt and shrug. Because men aren’t big on feelings and aren’t going to get all worked up over events.
* Always tries punching. So what does your character do when faced with a problem? Does the character use brains to think of a solution? Not if the character is male; he’s first going to try punching something. Because men like punching things and will always give it a try in every situation. Let’s say you have a science fiction story and there is some sort of interstellar anomaly. A male character will walk right up and try to punch it. Only if that fails, will he then try something else like quantum physics. This is why Sherlock Holmes was widely criticized for having an unrealistic male character because Holmes always went straight to observation to solve crimes instead of just punching the nearest person and yelling, “Who did this?”
* Men only want one thing. Despite whatever is going on in your story, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, men only want one thing: nachos. This is most of their motivation for doing anything, so make sure to mention it in your writing. “He knew that by overthrowing the dark lord, he’d be free to eat all the nachos he wanted.” Stuff like that. Men can also be motivated by pizza and tacos, but it usually all comes down to nachos.
* Men don’t like it when you make fun of their homemade Mandalorian costume. When men work really hard on a cool imitation of the Mandalorian costume, it really hurts when people make fun of it. I think I did a great job, and I don’t think it’s that far off from the TV show. And I know before I said before men don’t have emotions, but they might get a little emotional when they spend all week trying to make cardboard look like beskar steel and their wife just laughs at them when they walk around the house in it.
Well, there are all the tips I have for writing realistic male characters. Apply these, and maybe you’ll finally stop getting criticized for not understanding men in your fiction.