When Male Characters Become Too Chatty

By January 24, 2013

I’m not the best person to blog on the subject of writing because I mostly do everything by instinct or trial and error.  I never stop to analyze why, when or how, and I don’t like to follow a lot of rules.

But there is one trick I’ve learned over the years that I’m more than happy to pass along, although I have a feeling it may be one of those things that doesn’t work for, well, anyone but me.  Nevertheless, here we go.

Years ago I attended a workshop where the speaker claimed that female writers often over-write their male characters, especially when it comes to dialogue.  We have a tendency to have our pretend men speak the way we would like real-life men to speak, i.e. more like us.  I don’t know if this is true for most or even a few female writers, but it struck a chord with me.  My male characters do tend to get a little chatty.

So my trick is simply this: if I have a male character that is getting too verbose, I allow Clint Eastwood circa Two Mules for Sister Sara to slip into my head.  To be clear, none of my characters look like Clint or act like Clint or even speak like Clint.  I’m not even a big Clint Eastwood fan.  But hearing his voice in my head allows me to trim the dialogue.  Then I go back in and tweak word choice, phrasing and tags to make it true to my character.

Ta-da.  Tip of the day, for whatever it’s worth.

Oh, and Cillian Murphy seems to work for me, too.

P.S.  I love Shirley MacLaine

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Leanne says:

    This is interesting. The projection for me works the opposite. I’d create male characters who are more of the silent, sexy smoldering type. In reality, I wish the guys I knew would shut up.

  • Dianne Smith says:

    This makes perfect sense to me, which may scare you a little! LOL

  • Yodamom says:

    Love the Clint ! I never though about it before, I’m not a writer but I would give them more words then they would ever spill on their own. LOL

  • Kay David says:

    I’m with Leanne. A little peace and quiet is all I require. I’ll let you know when I need something, like a fresh Diet Coke or money.

    • Amanda says:

      I’m married to the strong, silent type. I feel like I’m talking to myself, most days. Which, when it comes down to it, I really don’t mind. 🙂

  • Pat Gragg says:

    I think that’s why women love soap operas and romance novels. Men talk about personal things with the women. I’ve noticed that,in real life, the chatty men love to impart their knowledge. I’ve never had a relationship with anyone like that so I don’t know if they’re chatty with their significant others too.

    I do think your advise is good.

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