Saturday, December 26, 2015

Writing Tips: Believable Male Characters

In a day and age when so much talk s focused on writing strong women, males are getting rather pushed to the sidelines. But if you look through writing history, the male character plays a crucial role in literary works over the ages. It wasn't until the twentieth century that such a thing as strong and independent females broke out across America and the world.
But does that mean that male characters are now worthless? Certainly not! The trouble is, it is getting harder and harder to find advice on how to write them. So, here I add some of my own advice.

First of all, let's throw out all the clichés. I mean, how many guys do you know that are tall, dark and handsome, with flashing green or piercing blue eyes? How many men have you met that are sweet and selfless and have troubled pasts, so they want to shield you and everyone around you from their own childhood horrors? Or have "devilishly crooked grins"? I mean, come on. Sure, there may be some guys like that out in the world; I haven't met all of the males through the ages, so I cannot say that they do not exist. But they are few and far between. They are rare. And, quite frankly, they are not very believable.

So, having thrown out clichés and stereotypes, where do we go from there? Well, the first thing I would do is find a list of flaws. It doesn't have to be overlong, but there have to be some flaws. I'd say at the very least, one major, three minor. Whether it is he has a tendency to drive to fast, or he is overly proud, there has to be something that is the matter with him. After all, any good story is about change, and if one is perfect at the beginning, how will one change by the end?

Another thing to add are some fears. It can be a superficial fear, a fear of spiders, or of heights; or it could be a deeper, more emotional fear; a fear of commitment or abandonment, for example. Take your pick; there are any number of fears out there. Your character just has to have one to four. But a fearless character is an unrelatable and unbelievable character.

Now we have flaws and fears, what about interests or hobbies? And if you say his interest is in football, girls or cars, I will cyberslap you. Guys are interested in WAY more than sports, cars and Playboy. In fact, many are not interested in those stereotype AT ALL. So pick something else. (Hint: He can have a lot of interests. I bet you have more than two or three interests or hobbies. So let him.)  Be creative. Be original. Chances are, your character will end up being just as creative as you are. And that is good and admirable. Remember, his interests make him interesting.

Flaws, Fears, Interests. Now we need some qualities. This guy of your creation will not be without some kind of quality; even evil villains have qualities. So dream some up. He could be and introvert, so he likes to help out behind the scenes. He could be arrogant, with a puffed out chest, so he would never tell anyone that he likes to volunteer at a retirement home. Maybe he loves deeply. Maybe he's empathetic. Again, be creative. Oftentimes, some of his qualities will be related to some of his interests. As long as you steer away from the Stereotypical Male aisle in Character Mart, you should be good.

These are just some tips to creating a more three dimensional and well rounded male character. If you have any tips or tricks, I would love to know them! Feel free to comment below.

And, as always, my dear Writerverse, Happy Writing!

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