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Guest Blogger: Brindle Chase
Friday, May 24th, 2013

A Guy’s Guide to Writing Romance

brindle01aWhen I stumbled into writing romance, it was not planned. By pure accident, I began revising a paranormal suspense piece I was working on and it slowly transformed into a romance. Now, keep in mind, I’d not only never written one but I hadn’t even read one.

I was lost and sinking in treacherous waters without a life jacket. I had no idea what I was doing at that point and yet my muse refused to yield to venture back to the safety of the genres I knew and read. She insisted the romantic element to my book blossom into a full-blown, paranormal erotic romance.

I had much to learn and learn I did. Through the wonder of the internet, I found writer resources, made contacts, found guidance and even some how-to articles. But using my male brain, translation was dim and I needed more light. So, I read over 200 romance novels, hoping it would sink it. It wasn’t until I realized I could keep my man-card and still write romance, that it eventually clicked. That mission impossible my muse sent me on, became my first published book, Gothic City Lights.

So, let me pass on some advice for the male author seeking to try their hand at the Romance Genre.

I bet you’re expecting me to say something like “embrace your inner woman” or “get in touch with your feminine side”.  Well, I’m not. In fact, probably the exact opposite. The first thing that men notice about romance novels, is the hero. He is the guy we want to relate to, but just can’t. And more men than won’t will toss the romance novel aside and go back to their paramilitary thriller books they are comfortable with. I confess, I nearly did too.

The very first thing a male author writing romance has to understand is that he is not writing for male readers. This quite obviously explains why he can’t connect with the Romance Novel Hero. The hero is purposely a fantasy. His job is to tantalize the deepest desires of the women who read his tale. He is unreal, yet, if crafted well, at least believable. For women. Men for the most part, simply go “Yeah, right.”

Think of it like this. As men, we objectify women as sex objects. Wrong or right, we do. We can’t really help it. Everywhere you look, there are pictures, videos, sounds, art and all forms of media showing us the “perfect” female form. It’s not hard to understand why Sports Illustrated Magazine’s bestselling edition is their annual swimsuit issue.

Well, women objectify men as well. The medium is usually different, but it’s the same thing. And you know what? It’s okay to fantasize. I dread a world where fantasizing is not allowed or even discouraged. I don’t know about you, but I read to escape the real world and enter one where my fantasies are entertained. I know I’m not alone in this.

Okay, so by understanding the hero is supposed to be fantastical and surreal, the male author can let go of trying to relate to him on a real world level. This is the time to crank up your testosterone and inject it into your hero. Where real men can’t be massive bulks of muscle, deadly and dangerous, suave and sophisticated, successful and wealthy, and articulate and intelligent, all at the same time, your hero can and should. Now, step two.

Understanding the mechanics of the Romance genre is really just as simple as any other genre. Every genus of fiction has its rules. From Space Opera to Chick Lit and from Epic Fantasy to Cozy Mystery, there are defined elements that must be present. As a male author, these are no different if you were a female author, so just learn those requirements and you’re well on your way.

That leaves what I found to be the stumbling block. The emotional conflict. Another confession: I didn’t even understand what an emotional conflict was until recently. By pure accident, my books had them and thus, they sold to publishers. But I didn’t put them there on purpose. Talk about lucky.

BC_GothicCityLightsHelena_coverlgAnyway. This critical element to the Romance Novel, I think, is the biggest obstacle for male authors. You see, we process emotions differently than women. It’s simply how men and women are hard-wired. Women are from Venus and men are from Mars, right? We’re writing for women and so we have to formulate an outsider’s interpretation of “Emotional Conflict.”

It’s difficult to describe how I personally deal with this issue without sounding cheap or demeaning, but essentially, I fake it. I honestly don’t think it’s possible for a man to feel emotions the same as a woman does and vice versa. Since I cannot feel the emotions the same way, I have to concentrate on the parts I can relate to and formulate a basic understanding.

I do know several authors who claim to perfectly understand the opposite sex, but—with all due respect—it doesn’t show in their writing. Several authors are very good at “faking it” and manage beautifully written stories and scenes from the opposite sex’s point of view. That takes talent and is rare. Amazon is crunch full of romance books where I can tell you, the author hasn’t clue one how men think. Hehehe.

The best compliment I’ve ever received was being told my female perspective was better than most female author’s the reviewer had read. I attained that compliment by tripling my concentration when dealing with my heroines and the emotional conflicts entwined within the plots of my stories. It was not easy and it is something I still do and will always struggle with by the very fact I am not female. My fragile male brain just can’t completely wrap around the female mind. Hehehe.

That was a compliment, in case it was read wrong.

But this brings me back to point number one and why it doesn’t matter if the hero is an authentic human male. He shouldn’t be. On the flip side of the coin however, the heroine must be genuine right down to her toes. This is why a male author has to understand the aspects of the genre that, in a word, are alien to the male thought pattern.

There it is in a nutshell. Obviously, every writer handles the aspects of writing differently and the “rules” really are simply guidelines. But I caution the male author when attempting their hand at romance, don’t skip the basics and pay extra attention to the aspects that make romance one of the most successful fiction genres of all time.

Now, let me give out a great big hug and thank you to Delilah for hosting me here today. I hope at the very least you all found me entertaining. I won’t be here all week, but do try the veal.

Brindle Chase
www.forlorn-hope.net

20 comments to “Guest Blogger: Brindle Chase”

  1. Karen C
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      · May 24th, 2013 at 2:47 pm · Link

    Thanks for sharing your insights into writing romance – it was interesting. The veal was great, thanks for the recommendation!



  2. Brindle Chase
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      · May 24th, 2013 at 3:06 pm · Link

    Thank you for dropping by Karen!!! :-P



  3. Lois Merrill
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      · May 24th, 2013 at 4:21 pm · Link

    I wholeheartedly love your writing Brindle!

    You absolutely do a great job with your female characters but by far your heroes are the sexiest most seductive men that I have read…everything a female reader desires and delivered within a great story every time!

    xoxoxo



  4. Ashley Applebee
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      · May 24th, 2013 at 4:48 pm · Link

    Thanks for the great post Brindle!! I was totally distracted by your hot picture though :P
    LOVE your work!!!
    Ashley A



  5. Brindle Chase
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      · May 24th, 2013 at 4:52 pm · Link

    :oops: Ahhhh… thank you so much, Lois!!!! Wait until you meet the hero in my story, Renegade, which is featured in the upcoming anthology, High-Octane Heroes… coming out first week of September… which also includes a stories from Delilah Devlin, who is also the editor and Sabrina York, Adele Dubois, among many other mega-talented authors!



  6. Brindle Chase
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      · May 24th, 2013 at 4:54 pm · Link

    :oops: hehehe… Ashley!!! =oP … thank you, sweety!!!



  7. Becky H
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      · May 24th, 2013 at 5:48 pm · Link

    Nice to meet you Brindle. I do not think that I have read anything by you… yet! But I love to meet and read new authors! Thank you so much for sharing.



  8. Rachel Pudelek
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      · May 24th, 2013 at 5:56 pm · Link

    So fascinating to read about your process! After I met you in person I wanted to get my hands on one of your books, now I REALLY want to!



  9. Jean
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      · May 24th, 2013 at 6:27 pm · Link

    I love your writing, Brindle. I think you straddle both male and female perspectives beautifully. No sexy pun intended…well, maybe! Lol.
    Seriously, your books are totally engrossing. Great dialogue, too. Loved this post. You are so right about us being unable to totally leave our biology behind.



  10. Delilah
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      · May 24th, 2013 at 6:55 pm · Link

    I’m reading through the High Octane stories now, and I LOVE Renegade! My kinda super alpha man! Can’t wait to unleash him on the public!



  11. Brindle Chase
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      · May 24th, 2013 at 6:58 pm · Link

    It’s nice to meet you too, Becky!!

    Right backatcha, Rachel… looking forward to reading one of your books… can’t be too far off, now that you have a coveted agent!!! *envy*

    Thanks Jean. As do you. I love your books too!!! :wink:



  12. Nona Raines
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      · May 24th, 2013 at 8:03 pm · Link

    Hi Brindle! What a fun blog post–so interesting to hear of your efforts to get into the female psyche. Hey, we’re not that complicated, are we? :wink: I do understand what you’re talking about because it’s a challenge for me as a woman to write from a male POV. I hope to catch up with some of your books soon!



  13. Barbie Shannon
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      · May 24th, 2013 at 8:20 pm · Link

    Hey, Brindle. I gotta say it was cool reading your post up there. Very interesting! well, since you already know I love your work…im just here to harass you :twisted:



  14. Brindle Chase
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      · May 24th, 2013 at 9:26 pm · Link

    Thanks, Nona!!! *big fan here* Love your books!!! And no, women are overly complicated. Intricate, yes… and different of course, but that’s one reason they are so exciting… =oP

    Hehhee, love ya Barbie!!! Harass a little lower though, please! *lol* Teasing…. hehhee… I so bad!! :lol:



  15. Brindle Chase
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      · May 25th, 2013 at 12:22 am · Link

    Thank you, so much, Delilah, for having me here today. It was quite an honor!!!!



  16. sharon chalk
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      · May 25th, 2013 at 1:32 am · Link

    Every romance book,specially erotica for women written by men I have had a very difficult time finishing up the book because I find that men tend to write porn,not erotica,they don’t seem to know the difference and to an adult woman there is a lot of difference.However I found your talk very interesting and the sly humor was very enticing,so though I said that I would never read another erotic romance written by a man because while I love erotica,I’m not a fan of porn,but I will give you a try and Ill check and see if you have a facebook or email site and if you do I will send you a review and let you know if you actually can write erotica than a woman would enjoy LOL but I really will send the review zanarigrandma@gmail.com



  17. Brindle Chase
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      · May 25th, 2013 at 12:23 pm · Link

    That brings up a fantastic point, Sharon. Part of the problem with Erotica is the misconception that it’s for women. Also, Erotic Romance should never be confused with Erotica, as it is written exclusively for women readers and the genre has a completely different set of guidelines. It would be like comparing apples to oranges, but expecting them both to be exactly the same. My publishers estimate from their sales data that Erotic Romance has a 98% female readership, where Erotica has about a 60% female readership. In this way, sometimes erotica is more difficult to write. And like you, I’ve read plenty of porn. But much of it was written by women too! I’ve been accused of it on occasion, but the vast majority of women readers have liked my books. I did have one reviewer give me a glowing review, 5 stars. Then found out I was male. She changed her review to a 1 star and rewrote her review into a scathing “men can’t write romance” spiel. :cry: Hehehe.

    Anywho, I love getting feedback but I will warn you up front, my erotica is not written for women. Its written for everyone. That said, if you read one, keep that in mind. My erotic romance however, is in line with the genre and tuned for the female reader. Or so I’m told. *lol* 8-O



  18. ELF
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      · May 25th, 2013 at 2:46 pm · Link

    Fascinating article, I appreciate the insight that you provide. Thanks so much for visiting, I will be on the lookout for your works!



  19. flchen1
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      · May 25th, 2013 at 11:46 pm · Link

    Brindle, it’s been a while since our paths have crossed, but great to see you here at Delilah’s, and thanks for an insightful article! Congrats on your continued successes, and looking forward to catching up with your recent releases!



  20. Beth D. Carter
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      · May 29th, 2013 at 9:37 am · Link

    Very cool, Brindle! I think I’ve always been fascinated with you a little. I read another male erotica romance writer, Eric Del Carlo from Loose Id, and I saw some of the differences you mentioned. Thanks for the insight. It even put some things into perspective for me.