Sunday, January 27, 2013

Can Men Write ROMANCE?

That's the question . . . Can Men Write Romance?

I'm curious about your thoughts on this. Please leave a comment and tell me whether or not you think men write believable romance. I'm really on the fence when it comes to this topic. On one hand, I think 'some' men write dynamic, credible romance novels. On the other hand, 'some' male ROMANCE writers have a hard time convincing me a heroine would act, think and feel in the manner they've portrayed them.

Let's face it, men and women for the most part are not wired the same, You've heard the old saying, "Women think with their hearts, men think with . . . ." Well, I'll let you finish that sentence. When I read romance, most of the time I relate to the heroine, probably because I'm a woman. I want the author to get inside her head, her emotions and 'feel' her conflict and her passion. Men have a hard time getting inside a woman's head to tell the story from her perspective simply because he doesn't think like her (and never has). How could he know how she feels or how she'd react to a certain scene when he's programmed to see the scene from a man's perspective?

I grew up reading Kathleen Woodiwiss and Rosemary Rogers, the queens of romance in my opinion. I loved Woodiwiss for bringing the setting, the clothing and the landscape to life. I loved Rogers for her no-holes-barred heroines, feisty survivalists, in harsh settings and the hard-ass men they loved. 

Sorry, I digress. Here's a  descriptive passage from one of Woodiwiss books and right below, a journalist (man) describing a woman's dress at a Grand Ball. See the difference?

Woodiwiss: A slender lad stood where he had been stopped with the rest of the passengers. Beneath a battered slouch hat pulled low over his ears, wary gray eyes stared out from a begrimed face. Overlarge garments emphasized the slenderness of his frame, and the trousers were gathered about his thin waist with a rope. He wore a loose cotton jacket over a voluminous shirt  . . . 

Well, you get the picture of what I mean about her descriptive prose. 

Journalist Man of the time describing Grand Ball attendees: 

She dressed with great elegance and equal simplicity. -- what the name of the material is, I do not pretend to say or know. It was thin, gauzy and white, looked as if it would burn easily, and had a long row of beautiful bouquets down the front, of which the bloom I did not recognize.

See the difference? Now, Woodiwiss imagined the scene in her head while the male writer was present at the ball.

That's not to say men can't write romance. Some do. According to RWA (Romance Writers of America) statistics, only 1% of romance writers are men. Below are partial bios of three men who do write romance, and they've been successful, particularly Nicholas Sparks. Take a moment to Google them and take a look at the romance books they've written.   

If you read romance, particularly romance written by men, leave a comment, tell us what you think.

Ken Casper's Bio (in part)
Ken's first sale was to Harlequin Superromance. A MAN CALLED JESSE was published in October '98. Since then he's written more than a dozen other Superromances, including the First Family of Texas series, contributed to two trilogies, a six-book series set in the police department of Houston, Texas, and he's currently involved in a five-book series set in the beautiful hill country of central Texas. His October 2003 Super, THE WOMAN IN THE NEWS, was a Holt Medallion finalist.

Leigh Greenwood's Bio (in part)
I didn't know much about writing, and nothing at all about the romance market, so I had to write two more books and join Romance Writers of America before I knew enough to sell my first book. Wyoming Wildfire was published by Zebra in 1987. Since then I’ve written 45 more books and four novellas.

Nicholas Sparks Bio (in part) - Sparks wrote one of his best-known stories, The Notebook, over a period of six months at age 28. It was published in 1996 by Warner Books. He followed with the novels Message in a Bottle (1998), A Walk to Remember (1999), The Rescue (2000), A Bend in the Road (2001), Nights in Rodanthe (2002), The Guardian (2003), The Wedding (2003), True Believer (2005) and its sequel, At First Sight (2005), Dear John (2006), The Choice (2007), The Lucky One (2008), The Last Song (2009), Safe Haven (2010) and The Best of Me (2011), as well as the 2004 non-fiction memoir Three Weeks With My Brother, co-written with his brother Micah.

And thanks for stopping by,


Claude Nougat said...

Very interesting post. I didn't know that only 1% of American Romance Writers were men, that's simply astonishing!

I'll tell you why I'm so astonished: because I never thought that a writing ability was particularly linked to gender. Some of the greatest females in world literature, and I'm talking of masterpieces, are men's creations: Anna Karenina (Tolstoy's) and Madame Bovary (Flaubert's)

So if men can create such remarkable, unforgettable and highly romantic characters, why can't they write romance? Why only one percent? I'm dumb-struck!

morgan said...

We have a couple talented male writeres in our RWA chapter. My husband co-wrote a romance with me, but refuse to have his name on hte cover. He made my hero sound, well more like a guy.

morgan said...

Follow up: I can spell writers and the, but I can't type fast obviously.;)

Dan Wright said...

Having read a few romance novels written by men myself, I have to be honest I was not that impressed with them. Although saying that, I did read a pretty damn good novel called Vixen, that was written by a male. So I think it is possible.

Speaking for myself, I could NEVER write a full romance novel - although I do put in romantic elements to my stories now and then. I just think my skill lies with Fantasy style stories and don't believe I could ever attempt writing a full romantic novel. That's just me though, and any guy who wishes to do it - all power to them!

Great post!

Keta Diablo said...

I will say that my all-time favorite book in romance is The Windflower. It was written by husband and wife team Tom and Sharon Curtis and probably written 20 years ago. I read that book at least once a year and every time, laugh! Even if I'm by myself. This is a definitely a romance but a sensual romance, no heavy sex scenes. There are many things I love about this book - their descriptions of the scenery, the DIALOGUE (fab) and the secondary characters are so strong, they beg for their own books. I have read other works by LAURA LONDON (pen name of husband and wife) and they weren't as compelling as The Windflower. If you like historical romance (pirates) pick it up and read it. This is a book you either love or dislike. Me . . . LOVE, LOVE!

E.B. Black said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
E.B. Black said...

I think men can be great romance writers, but most of them have no desire to write romance.

I think they can be great because . . . .

1. I don't think romances need to be from the female perspective to be good.

2. I don't really think there's a lot of thoughts that women have in particular that men don't. Or personality traits. All women are different, so there really aren't that strict of standards for the author to adhere to for the story to be believable.

The only time I don't find it believable was when I read a story where a man was writing from a straight females perspective and was writing in detail about her thoughts (in a sexual manner) of another woman's body. If she's straight, then she's probably not thinking those things.

But most other things are fine.

It's like when I write about men and people say that men don't behave that way. That men don't really compliment women a lot or tell them they love them a lot. In all my long term relationships though the men behaved this way towards me, so I know that's a lie. I've also been close to many men who were more emotional than I am. And all those things are considered feminine traits, when they really aren't.

Good characterization is about not sticking to stereotypes, not adhering to them as closely as possible.

Steveh11 said...

Oh. I definitely think men can write romance. I do, Jay Strickland does, many others do. But the overwhelming opinion seems to be that only ladies write romance. In a curious history reversal, I know of at least one man who writes romance under a female byline...

Sadaf H. said...

I am a big fan of a good Nicholas Sparks book, I've read many of his novels. I will admit, other than Sparks' books, I haven't read very many other romance novels, aside from Jane Austen classics.

I find his books very heartfelt and often find myself comparing my husband to a Nicholas Sparks character, to which he responds by rolling his eyes and stating "Nicholas Sparks men are unrealistic."

I find his books sweet, romantic and fluffy (until someone dies.) The only thing I would criticize is: once you've read one Nicholas Sparks book, you've read them all. They all have the same formula. You fall in love, and there is a tragedy in the end.