I’m hosting a panel at an upcoming conference on Romantic Elements in F&SF: The Male Perspective. What does this mean? The conference coordinator has in mind a talk on how men and women each approach romantic male characters.
I can tell you my response as a woman writer. In romance fiction, we use two viewpoints, male and female. We are aware that males think differently than females but we also want our romance heroes to be sensitive guys. So while he may start out noticing the heroine’s physical attributes, he also has to be attracted to her on a deeper level.
Since men aren’t always as well connected with their emotions as women, he won’t recognize this deeper attraction yet. And even when he does acknowledge his feelings for her, he may not be able to speak them aloud.
As a romance hero, there has to be an inner torment or conflict that keeps him from making a commitment. He has to come to some revelation and change his attitude by the end of the book. The female lead goes through her own emotional journey. Whether the setting is in outer space, a futuristic time period, modern day, or the past, these defining characteristics remain as genre conventions.
From the male writer’s viewpoint, how does your hero behave toward an attractive woman? Do you bring his emotional responses into play or does he just focus on how he’s hot to get her into his bed?
Love scenes, in both hero and heroine’s viewpoints, are written by female writers (excluding the erotica genre) more on an emotional level than a clinical act. Here’s where I expect a divergence from the male writer. Is your focus different? How about the aftermath of sex? Does your hero reflect on what it meant to him or does he jump into the next action scene?
Does gender as well as genre make a difference? For example, in thrillers and perhaps also urban fantasy, the characters have less time to reflect on emotional issues. How does the writer deal with the action hero’s romantic relationship in this case?
Do you feel a female writer has a different sensibility when writing male characters than a man?
Does your hero have a romantic relationship with anyone in particular?
Do his views regarding the female protagonist change through the story or the series?
How do you approach sex scenes: open or closed doors?
Is your hero an Alpha type (strong and stoic) or a Beta hero (sensitive, in touch with his feelings), or a bit of both?
How do you approach the male viewpoint in a romantic relationship?