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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Writing Romance for Men

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho.

Generalities below

The knight tethered his horse and pulled the beast’s muzzle against his breast. A final goodbye? The castle rose from the jagged rocks with spires like needles pointing into the roiled sky. He lifted an armored hand and reviewed his quest. One. Spikes. Two. Rickety bridge. Three. Moat. Four. Dragon. Five. Stone doors. He made a fist. Last of all, the witch.

All to save a woman he’d glimpsed once. Her beauty captured his mind, his heart, his soul. His longing had sent him to cross the King’s favor, spite his parent’s wishes for an alliance marriage, and finally, he had forsaken his vows to finish training.

He took a step toward the castle.

His wrists locked. They were forced behind his back. What evil magic is this? He struggled to be free.

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do…”

One full year community service for stalking.

I’ve been gorging myself on romance novels as if playing catch-up. As a male, I’ve learned so much my brain is spinning. But I only have time for one tip today.

Romance in novels doesn't reflect real life. If you want to get the girl in the novel, keep up the pressure. Convince her you’ll never give up on her, no matter her mistakes. When she tells you to go away, offer a lopsided grin and come closer so she feels the heat of your skin so she loses her mind. Stalking.

To win the girl in real life, apathy seems to work better. And a lopsided grin. And long eyelashes. Girls dig guys with long eyelashes.

Writing romance for men doesn’t reflect real life perfectly, either.

If you ever find yourself on another planet, like Mars, and have to write romance for men, keep this in mind—

Men want to be adored and respected

They want the hero to be adored and respected. If he's not, make sure at least his character arc is heading there...

The female heroine cannot hesitate in falling for the hero. There is no question he is the one, the only one, forever. Any difficulties within the relationship must come from the outside, giving the hero something to conquer with his sword arm, someone to protect with his shield arm. His flaws, if any, are attractive to her.

During her inner monologue, if she doubts that he is the one, the male reader is turned off to the story. The reader, projected as the hero, is amazing! Why would she doubt?

Fairytales make for great male reading. Lots of action. And the payoff? She falls instantly in love with him and he gets a kiss. Not a lot of undecided people there, wondering if this man's the one. Nope, it's happily ever after. Win. Win. Win. Win. Win.

In real life? Yeah. Lots of convincing he is the one. At first it’s fun for a guy, but then, when the relationship gets serious and the stakes are high, romance can be fulfilling or heartbreaking.

In the end, for men, the fairytale romances tell us to be manly, be ourselves, save the girl (without stalking), and live happily ever after. All the rest is simply details.


  1. Very interesting points. I'm having fun comparing various books I've read to those standards. You know, I think a lot of women appreciate when the hero is like that, too!

  2. Peter, you might appreciate this post: And then again, you might not too. Just sayin'.

  3. I don't even get what you're trying to say. Satire on how any romance is drivel? I write male protagonists and they have one thing uppermost in mind -- solve the main plot problem. The woman is a puzzle, a distraction, a buzzing sound in the ears, until he realizes she is a part of the solution, not another problem. They are really working on the same problem from different perspectives. When they start to work together to solve it, along the way they grow into love.

  4. ElkJerkyforthesoul, your books sound fascinating!

    I would NEVER say romance is drivel. In fact, just the opposite. Human interaction within novels, romance especially so, lends itself to empathy in characters, and eventually into real life by learning to understand others. Romance is valuable in our literary heritage. Reading into the post a little deeper, the point I wanted to make is that romance for men generally have the women fall in love with the male hero without one iota of reserve, never an inner thought of question in his perfection, no matter what he does. That's what guys like. I'm thinking Clive Cussler or Louis L'Amour or Bernard Cornwell or David Baldacci and so on. On the flip side, women's romance tends to have male characters fall completely for the female heroine in the same way. It seems to be a reflection of what we desire most in life from others. Love, respect, security, and hope.

    Sounds like you've found a perfect balance in your books! Both characters crashing for each other while working together—fascinating read! Wish you the greatest success!

  5. That's fascinating stuff, Nicole. Lots to think about there...

  6. Appreciate you checking it out, Peter. Gives you some insight into how I write "romance". And how I view it in the CBA. Good romance is very hard to find. I'm glad you recognize its worth and the deep-set emotions behind it. Putting some of the restrictions forced upon romance writers in CBA can take a story into clichéd and predictable stories. JMO.


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