Would a Guy Really Say That?

An attractive young man leaning against a wall.
© Can Stock Photo / javiindy

The differences between men and women are more than just physical. A woman’s psyche is also different from a man’s. A challenge I face as a contemporary romance author is writing a male character’s dialog. I’m always having to stop and ask myself, would a guy really say that?

Years ago I read a book called, Men Are from Mars Women Are from Venus. And while I can’t recall all of the details, I do remember it talked extensively about how men are more analytical, and women are more emotional. This doesn’t mean one sex is superior to the other. It simply means that men and woman think differently. So, I’ve modeled my male characters accordingly. The female characters will talk openly about their relationships, while the men are more prone to retreat to their man caves.

Jeremy Palmer, a character from two of my contemporary romance novels,  The Reunion, and The Journey is particularly known to do this. The challenge for me is when I have to have a male character discussing his relationship. I am, after all, writing contemporary romance. The main focus of the story is interpersonal relationships. So do men really talk about things like this?

One way I’ve handled it by having a male character confide in a female character. In my contemporary romance novel,  The Deception, Steve, a supporting character, talks to his fiancee about his concerns over Alex’s relationship with Carrie.

an excerpt from The Deception.

“Is something wrong, Steve?”

“I’m afraid so.”

“What is it?”

“Alex and Carrie. C’mon, you saw it. They’ve become much too emotionally attached to one another.”

“They go way back,” she said.

“No, there’s more to it than that. He’s fallen for her. Hard. Really, really hard.”

“Is that such a bad thing?”

“In itself, no. They’re two of my favorite people and under normal circumstances I’d be happy for both of them, but their situation isn’t normal. He’s representing her in a civil case and he’s losing his objectivity.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” he said, matter-of-factly.

***

This time, in another excerpt from The Deception, the conversation is between two men. I let them get to the point, as quickly as possible. They then discuss a solution. Had this scene been between two female characters more time would have been spent discussing their feelings

another excerpt from The Deception

Steve looked up when he heard someone tapping at his door. “Hey, Alex. What’s up?”

“I need to talk to you about something.”

“Of course. Come on in.”

Alex stepped inside, closed the door behind him, and pulled up a chair. He let out a sigh as he sat down.
 
“Are you all right, Alex? You look pretty serious.”
 
“I’m afraid your boy wonder has turned himself into boy blunder.”
 
Steve looked closer at Alex’s face. “You’ve slept with her, haven’t you?”
 
“Yeah.”
 
“Well now, that explains the happy glow.”
 
“Oh very funny.” There was a hint of sarcasm in Alex’s voice.
 
“Well, buddy, I can’t say I’m surprised. I saw this coming the day we all drove up to Flagstaff for her mother’s funeral. So, you know what happens next, don’t you?”
 
“Yeah, I do. I’ll have to recuse myself from her case.”
 
“It’s for the best for everyone involved, Alex. Even if you hadn’t taken it to that level, I’ve been concerned about your objectivity ever since the day you flipped out after speaking to Scott Andrews on the phone. That’s not like you. You never lose your cool. If something like that had happened in a courtroom—”
 
“It’ll never see the inside of a courtroom, Steve. Louise doesn’t have a case. She never did.”
 
“I know she doesn’t. Hopefully you’re right and it’ll never make it to court. However, our immediate concern is the here and now, which means we need to talk to Reggie.”
 
Before Alex could respond, Steve picked up his phone and dialed Reggie’s extension. As soon as she answered Steve asked her to come to his office. A minute later they heard a knock at the door. Steve opened it and Reggie stepped inside, bringing a folder with her.
 
***
 

I don’t know if this is how men really talk to one another behind closed doors or not. But if what I’m told by male friends, and by the John Gray book, is true, then I’m probably close. So far I’ve not heard any complaints from male readers.


Marina Martindale

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