Charles Colp

Reading for Writers

Charles Colp
Reading for Writers

Let’s face it, most of us began as super fans of one writer or another. We devoured everything they wrote. We waited in lines to get the latest book so we could be the first to read the next installment. Whatever the case may be, we are readers first. The problem with this method of teaching ourselves to write, is we often feed our brains from the same trough as millions of other writers. Whether it be the next Stephen King, or J.K. Rowling.

The hardest thing to do is reminding yourself there are so many other styles, so many other genres, so many other humans that write well. Many of my friends suffer through the writing blinders they have imposed on themselves. This is especially true of male readers who refuse to read a romance novel. The lack of exposure to this other world of writing a love scene is lost on them. It shows, even in well known published authors. The male love scene is so often about what it feels like, what it looks like, what it does for them. There are very few male writers willing to write about how the scenario makes their character feel. I am not a psychologist, but I am willing to bet it has something to do with perceptions and gender insecurities. Men aren’t supposed to feel more than four or five emotions and rarely are those emotions allowed to conflict or even cohabitate during a single scene.

I know writing this, half of my readers are scoffing at the idea. Their love scenes are different. Their values are far superior to the hindbrain activity and are of an elevated nature. The idea that there is something wrong with describing a woman’s breast as anything more than the direct object of desire would not even register.

I am not more elevated than my peers, I am not better in anyway. I am however aware that this exists. There is a simple test for any reader to see the other side of things. Read a novel written by the opposite sex, in a genre you would have never read, and judge the differences. Not whether they are good or bad, but whether they convey a different feeling. Two writers can write about deep passion and even the exact same scene, but if it was directly pointed out, very rarely would a reader realize they were both describing the same act. A characters emotions are key and women are just as human as men. Writing the damsel in distress scenario takes on a very different meaning when she was just about to pick the lock herself instead of pining for a big strong man to save her. I have never met a woman that wouldn’t fight and figure out a way to save herself.

In the interest of stopping the cardboard cutout of women in novels versus the fully fleshed out 3-D male superhero. Remember we are all members of the same human race. We just might approach problems and pleasure from a different viewpoint.

Character development

I had a recurring dream. It pointed out that I really should save the prince, or princess, from a bad fate. Even though in my dream the cost kept escalating. Are we inherently teachers? Doomed to live the same grade in school, seeing the same mistakes, helpless to only help the situation in hopes that the person learns. Is the story more importantly if we grow, or that we teach others to grow.
Being a writer, you hope your message rings true and others learn from it. So are we all doomed? Do we learn and move on? Ignoring the plight of the ones falling into that same trap. Saving the world and teaching goes hand in hand with writing. We want our characters to grow like children. Do we hold their hands in rescue?
Charles Ryburn Colp