I’m delighted to bring you this guest blog post, today on the topic of communication, by humorous romantic suspense novelist Chris Redding.
Communication is about independence and intimacy.
Men tend to focus on independence. They give orders and tell people what to do. Women crave intimacy. For instance, a man will make plans without consulting his wife. (Not all men) He will see no reason to “ask permission” of his wife. He actually views it that way. He would see it as not being able to act independently of her. He sees it as being the underling if he has to ask permission. Even though it isn’t really asking permission, but consulting the wife about her plans. (Which is how she would see it.)
Here you can add conflict. The hero makes a unilateral decision be it about a social event or in the heat of running from the bad guys. He doesn’t see why he needs to clear it with the heroine. Of course she wants to be in on the decision-making process so we have conflict between the two. He doesn’t understand why she needs to be part of making the decision.
It is the same mindset when men go out and spend money. They don’t feel they need to “ask permission”. My husband once bought a car without any input from me. He was going through a rough time and I think he needed to assert his independence not so much from me, but from his job. I didn’t make a big deal about it, but the next time he bought I car I mentioned it. And of course he had no idea that I would feel that way. Until I told him.
Intimacy says we’re close and connected. Women bond with each other, especially through talking. In feeling connected, two women feel symmetry. They are equals.
Independence is connected to status. Men like independence and their lives are about status. So status and independence are asymmetrical. Both people in a contest cannot have the upper hand.
Imagine someone other than the hero interested in the heroine. There would be an automatic competition between the two men. Conflict! Not huge conflict, but enough to show another side of your hero.
In ancient societies, men protected women. It is still in their biology to do that. There aren’t man-eating animals that women face on a daily basis so they do it other ways. (Quick story: In a bar recently with a mixed group. Someone else we knew asked one of the guys in the groups to help her get this guy off of her. Now he doesn’t even like her, but she was clearly scared of this other guy hanging on her. So my friend asked the guy to leave. Twice, nicely. The guy, of course, gave him a hard time, and they almost came to blows. My friend was willing to protect this woman merely because she was a woman.)
A mother naturally protects her children. But when a woman extends her protection to a man he bristles at it. He sees himself as a lower rank, a child. Since I was a kid in the age before widespread seatbelt use, if my father had to brake suddenly he would put his hand out to protect whoever was in the front passenger seat. I developed the same habit driving.
Fast forward a few years. I begin delivering pizza and using a seatbelt on a regular basis. I’m driving with my boyfriend (the one who convinced me to wear a seatbelt) and I have to break suddenly. My arm goes out. He thought that was the most ridiculous thing. He made fun of me for it for awhile. Looking back, it wasn’t about me. It was about him feeling as if I’d lowered him in the hierarchy of our relationship.
This post is an excerpt from her workshop Show Up Naked: Writing the Male POV. That’s really interesting, thank you Chris… I’m going off now to go see how my characters are communicating… or not.
Chris Redding lives in New Jersey with her husband, two kids and various animals. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. When she isn’t writing, she works part time for her local hospital. Her latest book out is ‘A View to a Kilt’, a humorous romantic suspense.
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!). You can also read / download my eBooks at Smashwords.