Romantic love blooms under the most incredible circumstances. Like water's relentless pressure to find a way through rock, love will always find a way.
As a male, I read romance.
I appreciate the well-crafted, well-chiseled male characters women create in their novels. I like complex and attractive people as much as the next guy. The fiction men in the novel make decisions based on an elaborate thought process readers can outline.
Here’s a quick thought.
Men in real life sometimes do things without a reason.
Yep. No reason at all. They just up and do them.
I know. I just opened a whole new world of understanding for you.
Reading that he has no reason, however, will have acquisition editors shredding your manuscript. I’m here to help. Here’s a few of men's motives despite contrary wisdom.
—Pit Himself Against Nature. Christmas Eve night, from my in-laws’ window, I watched the heavy snow fall. The party had settled into quiet chats, and I had the urge to jog. “It’s 5 degrees and the snow is over a foot!” my wife said. “Are you crazy?” I went anyway, and I remember every step of that two-mile jog, the blinding snow, the slippery paths, the frigid wind. I loved every second, and when I made it back, I played games with the others late into the night.
—Fix Things. He must fix things, even her. Why? Simple! He enjoys fixing things. He loves her. Enough even to die for her, if it will fix things. Relationship experts tell women to make it clear she’s venting before she tells her feelings. In a novel, he could try to fix something she’s simply vented to him.
—Connect Emotionally. Here's what connection looks like. A strong woman who cries in his arms is a profound moment for him. Moving. He may not know what to do or say—that’s a learned behavior. But when she leans on him for strength, then takes that strength and moves forward, he’s on top of the world. Your character might be trying to get her to divulge a problem. If she keeps coming back to the well for strength without moving on, however, he’s gone, because…well, read the next point.
—Love is Secondary to Respect. He may make unpopular decisions knowing that love is put on hold and people are angry at him, like volunteering for the infantry. Or selling a car the family likes because he thinks gas prices are going to go up, and buys a smaller vehicle (yeah, did that). Sometimes he’s proven right, which doesn’t always create love in others, but creates respect. This respect makes him WANT to be a better person. When he’s proven his worth, people come to him for advice, help, and for company. He has nothing left to prove. Your character may decide the hope for distant respect is more important that immediate love. But if those around him don’t listen to his advice, he’s not respected, and he moves on. (I’ve seen many women with this attribute as well).
—Vanity. Looking good is important. Men find the best quality they see in themselves and enhance the attribute. Hair. Muscles. Smile. Chin. Beard. (On a side note, men always see a woman’s best attribute first as well, which is why they do cat calls etc…). Your character may spend a lot of time trimming his nails.
—Silence. Men enjoy time when they’re not feeling or thinking anything. It’s awesome. It’s important. It’s NOT needed all day, but some men live that way. Getting him off the couch can be an interesting novel!
Best of luck helping your readers understand why your dudes do what they do!
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. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at www.peterleavell.com.