Okay, I’ve started my first draft of Marked, which will be my first M/M Romance. (Yay, it’s a new genre for me to go forth and conquer!!!) First thing first: a SHOUT OUT!! to Josh Lanyon and his fab-tastic How-To book, Man, Oh Man: Writing Quality M/M Fiction. Beyond awesome, and it should be read by anyone interested to move into the hotly-selling M/M romance genre.
So, his Cheat Sheets for Chicks in hand, I set out with pen and notebook in hand. (Both kind, folks. I use the digital as well as the paper.) Man-speak was a challenge—I should say is a challenge. I thought back to conversations with my brother for examples of how men speak…no, bad idea. My brother is one of those “highly-emotional” Water Signs. Not what I want for my studs in bed. (No offense, dude, I’m just saying.) So I checked in with my buddy Brian the Hoffmeister. A treasure trove of information is Bri-guy. He’s open for any question.
I text: “What do guys call the bathroom?”
He replies: “The head or the john. Mostly, though, it’s spoken of by what you are doing since we know where you’re going to do it. “Gotta see a man about a horse.” “Downloading a data stream.” “Take a piss.” That sort of thing.”
And another gender difference is that girls pay attention to what’s happening in other stalls because one never knows when someone needs assistance.
I text: “Really? But what if they’re out of TP or something?”
He texts: “Unbreakable Code of Silence. The only exception is a sexual hook-up.”
Me: “But…needed TP…?” (That’s a particular horror for girls.)
He: “We locate the roll before we crap.”
And did you know that beard style have actual names? I didn’t. Robert Downey Jr. wears a “Balbo.”
Now considering myself armed and ready, I headed out for unfamiliar territory…and slammed into an unexpected wall. Pronouns. Oka-ay… I went to my fellow M/M authors to see how they handled the issue.
No disrespect intended to my fellow authors in the genre, but sometimes it seems there was a drinking game called “How Many ‘HIS’ Can You Put Into One Sentence?” A shot if whiskey for each male pronoun used. (In my mind I see my SHU mentor Prof. Tim wince.) Another issue was the overuse of personal names in the narrative in an effort to clarify who was doing what. (That one would cause Prof. Scott to flinch. One of his lectures contains the words, “There’s a visual check we use. We don’t carry on a conversation calling each other by name.”)
Really, colleagues, isn’t there a better way to handle the issues than redundancy and lack of narrative clarity? I say there is. In this genre an author must be ruthless in their use of point of view. And I mean ruthless.
My first scribble: “He#1 buried his hands into his#2’s still wet hair and…” Wait. What?
My second try: “Diego buries his hands in Bo’s still wet hair and…” Wait… AAAHH!
Okay, self, focus. Where’s the camera? What’s the point of view? It’s Bo’s.
My third try: (after ruthless edits) “Diego’s fingers tangled in his hair. Each bee-sting kiss he placed on those luscious abs brought a soft grunt and a gentle tug on the damp strands of hair at the nape of his neck.”
Okay, yeah. That was cool. Make no mistake, however, it took work. Authors—I mean me—have a tendency to take the easy road. If a pronoun can do the work then why not use it? Unfortunately, that doesn’t work in M/M romance.
Be ruthless with your point of view colleagues. And I do mean ruthless. Impress the reader. Or simply assign your name to crap and suck it up, buttercup.
Me? I’m answerable to Prof. Anne to the quality of my M/M manuscripts. She may be small of stature but she’s a titan. I’ll be working hard to ensure she smiles my way. I’d hate to have her come at me with the Red Pen from Hell.