Sunday, June 22, 2008

GLBT follow-up thoughts

Some damned well-thought-out comments to that previous post, and from some writers I truly admire.

As I wrap up my third exclusively m-m story (and, boy, let me tell you . . . it grinds my gears something fierce when authors cop out and throw a woman in at the end), I can't help but be aware of other characteristics of this niche genre. Based on what I've read thus far -- and I plan on reading much more -- there are distinct "tonal" differences between m-f and m-m romances.

When a hetero couple is on center stage, exploration and exposition of characters' emotions and blatant evocation of emotion in the reader seem more the rule than the exception. Character development is often internal and wedded to profound feeling. Authorial voice and prose style reflect this submersion. The drama of the heart rules.

However, when a gay male couple is the primary pairing, the author is more likely to distance her/himself from its emotional component, which is often, as a result, underplayed. In fact, strong emotion comes across as something shameful, an affliction to be avoided at all costs. Authorial voice is flip, wry, or even businesslike. World-building and plot/action take precedence over the soul-searching intricacies of bonding. Sex becomes either an eagerly anticipated theme-park destination (the impression I have of Manna Francis's stories) or an inconvenient detour (the impression I have of Ginn Hale's). I'm wild about both, by the way.

Maybe I'm exaggerating these distinctions between m-f and m-m fiction, but I have noticed them. And, depending on how skilled the author is, I honestly have no preference for one approach or sensibility over the other. I'm just wondering what other readers and writers think. I'm particularly curious if women who write m-m fiction find themselves "masculinizing" their styles when they fashion a romance between two men.


Jeanne said...

Check your email, kiddo.)
Okay now to answer your last question:
As a newbie author of m/m I found myself projecting my masculine self ;~D
I mean, I cursed more because every guy I've ever known straight or gay seems to have a raunchier vocabulary than I do.
I went nuts searching out gay movies to get a sense of the variety of scenarios existing (I found better movies on the indie cable stations over all than LOGO - (it it kinda like an Uncle Thomasina for straight folks?)
I badgered the male m/m writers I know (especially one whose intitals are jl) to get a sense of what turns them on
I remembered all the trouser roles I sang in opera and how I performed them (why? to get movement)
I immersed myself in gay history. I need backstory even if it's not in your face.
I wrote in the first person because that's how I internalize my love scenes when I write m/f (and any other combonation)so I guess I grew a penis. ;~D
Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Jeanne said...

OT, checked out your MySpace
You're an Etta James fan???
Love her!
Love the song!

Kate Hill said...

I can't say I change my writing style due to the sex of the characters, but go by the individuals when deciding how they react emotionally. I've written hard-edged females, gentle males and vice versa. For me how characters act and think depends more on their background, personal beliefs, etc. than on their sex. Only if something in a character's history has molded him into having certain ideas about gender will I emphasize that, but again it's very individual.

K. Z. Snow said...

Don't know why, but Blogger didn't notify me of any comments except the most recent one.

Excellent observations, Jeanne. Yeah, Logo is kind of a letdown. Very "vanilla queer". You got the venerable J.L. to help you out? Wow.

When I write m-m fiction, I find myself falling back on my tavern-brat heritage. My parents owned blue-collar joints, so, in spite of my education, I've always felt most comfortable with people who are closer to the street than the Ivory Tower. I've always had close gay friends, too (even had an affair with one . . . but that's another story), so penis envy comes naturally to me. ;-)

Anyway, yeah, I do find that my authorial voice naturally modulates when I move from one genre to another. But, as Kate pointed out, a great deal does depend on the nature of the story and of individual characters.

I ADORE Etta James.