Dear Author: Men Don’t Talk Like That!

This will be brief! (Ha! Famous last words… I ramble.) I’m reading a highly rated M/M book by a popular author in our genre and seriously, I can’t believe the dialogue between the two male protagonists. I just had to share… well that and I don’t want to think I’m the only freakin’ reader of this genre that doesn’t read this sh… stuff and talk out loud at your Kindle, “Are you kidding me?”.

Here are a couple of lines: (Keep in mind, these are two grown, career-minded men. I know I had to remind myself several times.)

“You look good in jeans. Those sunglasses fit your face perfectly.” (Unless he’s a sales clerk at Neiman Marcus… nope, not telling you about the fit of your sunglasses. And I’m not as turned off by the “jeans” comment but seriously a guy is more likely going to say “nice ass”…)

And…

“You smell incredible.” (I think this one threw me because I tend to believe men are more likely to think something about the way you smell, rather than tell you in public, that you be smellin’ good. They normally reserve that comment for lasagna.)

One more, in the tub basking in the afterglow…

“Sit here.” “Lie against my chest. Let me hold you.” (I’m thinking all of this could have been shown to us. Men would just reach over, take your arm and lead you over to where they can hold you. Just sayin’!)

Here’s another thing about the last example, that is classic M/F romance/erotica stuff. It’s common for the man to perform what I think of as after intimacy care to the woman – running a warm bath, washing her, caring for her needs and assuring her she’s wanted, etc. That’s all I could think of when I was reading this. And guess what? The author also writes M/F romance. I think some wires are getting crossed – not a good thing.

Now, before you start screaming at me about how there are sensitive men and men who say romantic things, etc. I want to point out that this has nothing to do with any of those things – even the most sensitive, romantic man will not talk like this, most especially to another man his equal (meaning another Alpha male as was the case in this particular book). Of course, men say sweet and romantic things, it’s just different. The above example completely took me out of the moment and did not fit the personas of the two characters – as a matter of fact, after reading dialogues like the aforementioned (and the book is riddled with it) I was more confused about exactly who these characters were. I couldn’t get in their heads at all.

Now for comparison, here’s a couple of examples of dialogue from one of my favorite authors, Josh Lanyon. Josh has male-to-male dialogue down to a science! Yes, I’m a fan, but when writing is done this well it’s easy to be a little fanatic.

First, a cell phone conversation between the two protags of Fair Game when arranging a dinner meeting:

“Wear something sexy.”
“Asshole.”
“That will certainly work.”

And a conversation after intimacy from Somebody Killed His Editor, one is quickly getting dressed while the other fixes himself a drink (it’s not always about romance):

“Well, that was a mistake.”
“Thank you for saying so,”
“You know what I mean,”
“Sure.”

I remember a line from one of my fave movies, When Harry Met Sally, where Harry is telling Sally about what he’s thinking after a night (or couple of hours) with a female friend and – I wish I could find the exact quote without watching the whole movie to hear it again – he says something to the effect of, “I’m just wondering how long do I have to lie here and hold her before I can start to leave…” Of course, this revelation disgusted Sally although she was being given the rare gift of hearing the male side of that particular moment. Harry wasn’t saying he didn’t like the woman or maybe even have feelings for her but rather he just wanted to leave, not cuddle. And notice he said he’s THINKING this. Men think lots of things they don’t say, unlike the book I’m reading where apparently these two men SAY everything, out loud and to each other.

I’m going to finish this book if it kills me 😉 I have several other right behind it that I’m reading as part of a very unscientific experiment I’m performing whereby I read all of the top ten authors and books (according to Amazon) in the M/M genre and I will try to do a comparison between them and what I like to refer to as the Holy Grail authors – these being the M/M authors who have been around a while, they write as well as any mainstream mega-author and they are both real and genuine when it comes to their persona and reviews (they don’t buy them and they don’t press for fakes). This is not an easy task. But hey, someone has to do it! Seriously! Someone. Has. To. Do. This… because no one is doing it and it’s important.

I love our beloved M/M genre. It has ebbed and flowed over the past several years and I see something happening that is alarming and I want to stop it. I’m only one person, but if I can see this, if I can know things are askew then I’m pretty damned sure I’m not alone – I just feel alone. But I get it, it’s not easy ranting about bad books or giving scathing low-star reviews to authors in our genre because it’s small, it feels intimate and we don’t want to be negative about the author’s books. We need them. We need the M/M authors because there’s not as many of them as there are of the mainstream authors, so when there is such an influx of bad, poorly executed books the whole genre suffers! The mainstream M/F romance genre can usher in a whole slew of bad books and weak prose (and boy do they) and it will barely register on the Richter Scale – not so much with M/M. This is why things need to get better.

Stay tuned for more!

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