One of my twitter-friends, Kait Nolan, posted an interesting question on her blog "Have you heard of a romance genre for men?" It is an interesting question and did end up generating some awesome discussion. So, because my brain won't stop thinking about it, I decided that I need to post something. I have some ideas.
Bear with me. This may be a little stream of consciousness, but I want to present the ideas as they come so that you can see the thought process. Hopefully, you'll still be sane when you're done reading. :D
Ok, we'll start with the basic idea of what constitutes a romance novel/story. I will admit, this is my perception, so if I get something wrong, let me know. Also, I am speaking in generic terms and I know that there are exceptions.
My understanding of a romance novel is this: You have a strong willed, self-sufficient woman who falls for the alpha-type male who woos her, despite her objections. He's physically attractive (think Adonis) and a magnet for all the women around him. He's self confident, bordering on egotistical. This turns off said female as she is not looking for a man like this. Despite the obvious physical attraction, she is worried that his personality flaws will weaken her. She also doesn't want him to leave her once he has captured her (a common fear based on his cavalier nature toward women in general). Of course, unbeknownst to the leading woman, the alpha male is completely smitten by her beauty, charm, etc. and desires no other but her. Despite his professions of love, she refuses to believe him. Hilarity ensues and they ultimately end up happily together by the end of the book. There could some sex involved (or a lot!), but ultimately, it is the romance that is the focus.
So, how does one convert this to be male centric? How do you convert this very successful formula into something that would capture the male reader's attention?
Well, I have a few ideas. You can argue with me, but you would be wrong. I've thought about it for longer than 20 minutes and therefore am an expert. Right?
So here goes. One of the desires of your typical, heterosexual, male is to snag the woman who is so far out his league as to be ludicrous. In other words, the geek gets the smokin' hottie. Now, another desire that men have is to be accepted and admired. We do really have fragile egos. Sure we hide them behind facades of indifference and excessive machismo,but deep down, we want someone to think we're awesome. This why we compete against other men. Just look at the TV shows, commercials, and movies. You'll see it. If there are two guys, they are competing for your attention and the attention of those around them.
So, let's translate this concept into a romance novel.
First off, the leading male cannot be an alpha, at least to start. He can be attractive and have a great body, but ultimately, he doesn't see himself as an alpha and therefore others won't see him as such. He won't be a leader and will defer his opinion to the person he sees as the "alpha". Women will like him, but not romantically. Or if they do, he won't notice it and therefore they won't feel like pursuing him. In walks our leading lady. She will, like in a female centric romance, be confident, self assured, and drop dead gorgeous. She could be in a relationship with the current Alpha, but feel comfortable enough with the leading man to confide in him, etc. Despite her confidence, she is needing emotional support from the leading man. He will be in love with the leading lady, but not being an alpha will not feel he can express his love. His emotional support will eventually convince her to dump the alpha and eventually help the leading man transform into the alpha that he really is. Granted there will have to be complications, etc that prolong the romance and tension, but I think the basics are here.
If the above sounds familiar, it should. There have already been several movies that follow this plot line. The two that come to mind are "Can't Buy me Love" and "The Wedding Singer". In all honesty, I think this concept shows up a lot in the teenage, highschool drama/comedies that are such a big hit.
What are your thoughts?
'Till next time.
Very entertaining post, Andrew. The conventions are tried and true because they work, I suppose.ReplyDelete
I definitely don't consider myself a standard romance writer, or reader for that matter. I appreciate characters I can connect with and plots that turn the conventions on their ear.
I've been honestly (and pleasantly) surprised by the male response to my two published shorts, though. Hope that means I'm doing something right on my end. :D
Yeah, I think it could be easily modified to a male audience considering a lot of men read them anyway.Delete
The classic "let's be friends" and the chick just doesn't see what's good for her until it's too later. Can be said for the reverse too! Always the friend, never the lover. Always the bride, never the bridesmade.ReplyDelete
We all crave acceptance. We all crave love...to be loved unconditionally and deeply! That is true romance!
Yes. I was thinking that. A variation on that would be the one where the "smokin' hottie" pursues him, but he doesn't believe it because she is so out of his league.Delete
I love this post and would definitely read your male-oriented romance novel! :) Would this type of story still be marketed primarily at women or at men as well? By adding an action or adventure element, I could see it appealing to male readers. I think it works well for human underdogs/secret superheroes: Clark Kent, Peter Parker, etc. who are powerful and very capable in one way, but also have to overcome many obstacles (especially in the romance department).ReplyDelete
I would think it would be marketed primarily to men. Women might read it (just as some men read regular romance novels), but the focus would be on the male audience. You never know, it might work. :D If I ever write one, I'll make sure you get a copy. :DDelete
Great post Andrew - you need to write it! I'd give it a read!ReplyDelete
Thanks Scarlett! I may have to take you up on that. I think I've got an idea of what the next story is going to be. Guess I'll have to do some research on the classic version of the genre.Delete
Yup, I'm adding my two cents in the Write it! columnReplyDelete
LOL. Thanks. I've been thinking, but I have to do more "research" first. :-pDelete