Monday, February 21, 2011

We Can Break Gender Stereotypes in Writing

Having just started a fun mystery serious by a male author that stars a female protagonist, the thought about male and female stereotypes in fiction has been on my mind lately. In the series, the Shandra Covington mysteries, by J. Scott Savage, the heroine breaks several female stereotypes, especially that guys always have bigger appetites.  She is a food fanatic and has the metabolism not to blow up like a balloon.  She prefers steak to salad and doesn’t ever stop to count the calories.  I thought it an interesting reversal of how many heroines are portrayed in fiction. 

I think a male author can effectively have a female protagonist and vice versa, but I think that in doing so, the author needs to make an extra effort not to fall into the rut of gender stereotypes.  I suggest the following as a start: 

  • Men are more logical and women are more emotional.
  • Guys like sports, working on cars, and weight lifting.  Women like cooking, gossiping, and decorating.
  •  Men are afraid of commitment.  Women thrive on it.
  • It’s shameful for men to show emotion.  It’s shameful for women not to.
  • It’s a man’s duty to know how to fix the car, the plumbing or anything else around the house.  It’s a woman’s duty to know how to soothe a crying child or whip up anything from scratch. 

Shake things up a little in your fiction!  Have a man who likes to write poetry, or a woman who loves working on cars.  Today’s society is full of people breaking the mold, and that should reflect in your fiction.  What others stereotypes do you think are out there in fiction?  How can you avoid them? 

In a perfect example of breaking stereotypes, my newest release, “Portrait of a Mother” which comes out March 8th, 2011, is a tender Mother’s Day story.  It’s very short, but I think it’s a tale both you and your mother can enjoy.  You can preorder it here:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

On manly writing

I was asked to give a presentation in front of several of my fellow managers about diversity. To set the scene: there were about twenty people in the room, with a mixture of men and women, and all sorts of ethnic backgrounds.

The first thing I said was, "I am a minority." Understand this is coming from a white male. The reactions varied from shock, disbelief, skepticism and confusion. In addition, I thought one of the people in the room was going to throw something at me.

I followed up by saying, "I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons."

The atmosphere in the room eased up a bit, some people even smiling. And then I hit them up with this question, "All right, now how many of you are wondering how many wives I have?"

There was scattered laughter and a few nodding heads.

My response? "Well, I do believe most, if not all of you, have pre-judged me based on my gender, race and religion."

What point was I trying to make? That it is human nature to connect attributes or make assumptions about people based on their overall classification.

In developing my career as a writer, I've found that male authors seem to be in the minority. Maybe it's just my imagination. Also, it seems that if you are a male writer, it's almost expected to be more rough and, well, manly, in your writing. And there is some truth in that.

I found the response I got from The Hidden Sun was quite interesting. Women loved the romantic elements, as well as the character development. The guys? Well, they liked the action sequences and the twists and turns. Me? I'll have to admit, it was more fun to write the action parts. In fact, the follow up book, The Waxing Moon, is much more of an adventure story, though there are still plenty of interesting characters and yes, there is romance.

Have I found it more difficult to be a male author versus being a female author? Well, I can't say, since I've never been a female author. Is there is stigma when it comes to being a male author? Possibly.

The simple truth is that men and women are different. I've uncovered this highly scientific diagram to prove my point:

Need more proof? After a nine year study by some super top secret government agency (at a cost of 17.3 Billion dollars to the tax payers), the following study was released about shopping habits of men vs women:

So, are there different expectations for male writers versus their female counterparts? I'll have to go with "yes" on that one.

When I was first shopping The Hidden Sun, I got a response back telling me that if I were to add some sex scenes, swearing and more violence, they would be interested. I wonder what would have happened if I had submitted the same story under the fictitious name "Suzie Unicorn". . .

Saturday, February 12, 2011

V Day Flick List

Here at the Man Cave, we want to prove that guys have feelings too, especially on Valentine's Day.

To help our male cohorts out, we've compiled a list of romantic comedies that are guy friendly.  These are the flicks you can snuggle up with on Valentines Day without hating every single second.

Sure, we prefer action and violence, but films like this help keep the women folk happy.

These flicks are Aphrodite Approved.  
(Trust us, we checked)

The Wedding Singer:  Adam Sandler adds a dose of manliness to any romantic comedy.  Here he has to rescue the lovable Julia from her doomed jerk of a fiance, all while belting out 80s tunes at the local reception hall.  Plus, Billy Idol makes an appearance.  Gotta love that.

In the scene below, we discover how an elderly neighbor has been paying for music lessons.

Enchanted: It's a movie making fun of stereotypical fairy tales, though it doesn't turn out as you might expect. And I'm a sucker for fun music. The Prince get's run over by cyclists when he's waxing too cheesy. (Bonus points right there, baby!)

One funny scene can be found here:

Life is Beautiful: It's got a good love story, but also a healthy dose of crazy Germans, and if you sit through the whole thing, you win a tank.

Along Came Polly: I don't know why, but I can just watch that movie whenever it comes on. No reason. I'm not really that big of a Jennifer Anniston fan either. Something about Philip Seymour Hoffman shooting hoops. Good times. And there's love in the air around that movie.

Accepted: Probably not really a romance comedy, but the guy likes a girl at some point during the show. And I laugh a lot throughout it.

The Princess Bride: One man cave author took no less than 7 different girls to this movie when it came out (The Casanova was in High School). One of the best date movies of all time--and one he still enjoys.

Ever After: One of the better re-tellings of Cinderella.

Dirty Dancing: 'nuff said.

We'll post a list of other movies you can enjoy after Valentine's Day soon.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Paranormal Romance: Lets take it Back

Hey, it's February, that month of love and what says love more than Paranormal Romance?

Wait a minute, David you say, this is the Man Cave Authors Blog-has some feminist group hijacked the blog?

No, I assure you such is not the case. I think Paranormal Romance is great...not the new stuff so much - but the classics.

Dracula? Frankenstein? Medea? Gilgamesh?

No, dear readers.

I am talking about what makes Paranormal Romance click-what it has that makes it appeal to people-that one member of the couple has powers. Lately that has been the boy-vampire, werewolf, fallen angel, and other such nonsense-NO!

We need to get back to when men were men and women were witches or genies and whatever Mortica Adams was.

I'm talking 'Bewitched', 'I Dream of Jeannie', 'Adams Family', 'The Munsters', and those three cute witches on 'Petticoat Junction'.

Back in the 60's (before I was born) those TV shows had it right, with the women having the powers-it helped them gain their independence and get the house clean.

We need more stories like that these days. So rather than another insipid tale about a wallflower with no personality or powers---I invite---Nay I CALL for everyone to write empowered female characters who can wiggle their noses, or blink or wave and magically do the dishes or laundry-you make that choice-mix it up a little.

Because that's love.