Masculinizing Your Dialogue

Spread the Word!

I recently went to a conference and entered a workshop taught by Maralys Wills. Obviously she’s great because this is a post on all the tips she gave us on masculinizing your book for the male market. (If you like what I gleaned from Ms. Wills, you might want to check out some of her books like Damn the Rejections Full Speed Ahead: The Bumpy Road to Getting Published.

Without further ado, here goes…

Women read everything.

Men…not so mu

^Couch made of duct tape and books^

Men tend to stick with books written by men. I get irritated when I read books from teen perspectives only to find the writer can’t write a teen voice, why not men when they read a book written by someone clearly misinformed on men? You’ve got to know your subject! And the dilemma for most women writers is that we write men as we see them, not as men actually are.

When it comes to dialogue, here’s what Ms. Wills advises.

Tip # 1: Eavesdrop on men.

If you missed your Stalker 101 class in high school, then just try hanging around men you know. I’ve got guy friends, and am close with my brothers and other male relatives. Listening and watching them is great for my male characterizations. Just don’t tell them you’re studying them. I can’t imagine why, but they think it’s creepy.

Tip # 2: As you write think terse. Think brief. Think tough. Think strong. Think cut-to-the-chase.

Some of the men you know may not actually be any of those things, but that’s how they view themselves, so get with the delusion.

Tip #3: Ask the most masculine man you know to read your manuscript. Suggest that he offer alternative word choices anywhere and everywhere (e.g. Instead of “Let’s leave now,” how about “Let’s shove off.”)

I’m fortunate to have my dad, brothers, uncles etc. Since I’ve got several main guy characters in my book, I bullied them *cough* I mean, asked them politely to read my manuscript. They’ve told me when things get boring, how to reword things to make my fiction boys more realistic, and, my favorite, “a dude would never say this, what is wrong with you?!”

She also had some stuff about attitudes but I’ll save that for the next post!

So what do you think is the best way to masculinize writing? Any tips of your own? Any favorite manly books?


  1. Kirthi says:

    Wow, you make a good point…most books I read (all of them!) are from a female P.O.V….this is a great post! I smiled all through reading it 😀 Cute “masculine” picture with the muscle man 😀

  2. Nicole says:

    Great tips! I’m currently working on something from a male perspective and it’s in first person, present tense so I rely a lot on the info I have on guys. Luckily, I got a brother I can bully–uh, I mean ask, too, about reading my manuscript when it’s finished 🙂

  3. Suzette Saxton says:

    Great article, Alyssa. Love the tips. I was eavesdropping on a dad at a Jazz game. I even snapped his photo when I thought he wouldn’t notice. I wonder if he thought I had the hots for him? Someday I’m sure he’ll show up in one of my books!

  4. Sandra Stiles says:

    One thing I do is keep a list of the books the boys in my classes read. I also found the book Guys Write for Guys read, an anthology written for boys, very helpful. Great tips, thanks

  5. Temperance Blackwood says:

    Hey, I found this very interesting, because I usually get stuck when writing about my male characters because I can’t get to know them, I mean, I don’t know what they would say our do in the situations they are involved in.

    Thanks so much, Alyssa! ^^

  6. Kathi Oram Peterson says:

    Great suggestions for writing from the male point-of-view. They do speak with shorter sentences and definitely look at life differently then women. Great post. I’m glad I found your wonderful blog. 🙂

  7. Stina Lindenblatt says:

    There’s a reason why I write teen novels from a female perspective. Great advice. ‘Cause even if you write from a female POV, there’s got to be at least one guy talking at some point. Right?

  8. Creative A says:

    Ooh, nice post. One great example of a book with strong, clear perspectives from a male and female is “A Kiss In Time.” It’s actually written by a guy, and it’s a fascinating look of how the male character thinks vs. the female.


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