It’s time to talk about writing men a little bit more. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, clicking that link will take you to the introduction of the idea a little while ago. Feel free to catch up and check back when you’re done. We good? Okay.
According to Merriam-Webster’s, objectivity refers to a lack of favoritism for one side or another. Throw out this definition, at least until you finish reading this.
When writing men, objectivity refers to the way we love to have goals and seek to fulfill them.
Now some of you out there might object to this by claiming that a lot of men today seem kind of aimless, just drifting around life with no real goal in mind. I’m not going to argue with that, because I’ve met my share of guys who sound exactly like that. However, that just means that they have little interest in life as a whole, if you observe their activities you’ll start to see the objective theme playing you.
For example, the vast majority of men who are drifting through life probably have an obsession of some sort with video game(s). Most video games are objective driven affairs – clear this level, defeat those enemies. In fact, there’s a special term for these kinds of objectives in videogame land: Achievements. And people become obsessed with them.
Even the most free-form video games become objective driven for most guys. Take the bizarrely popular Minecraft, for example. It’s a game that lets people gather blocks and build things out of them. In my day, we called these Legos. The appeal of Minecraft is that it offers an infinite number blocks that are basically free. Some people will use them to recreate famous buildings, others will set out to build the Ultimate Fortress, some people want a life sized model of the U.S.S. Enterprise (NCC-1701 no bloody A, B, C or D).
So even the seemingly aimless men you meet actually have goals, they’re just goals that have been provided by someone else, or goals with little connection to reality. Whether it’s wealth, enlightenment or the World Record for time spent on a unicycle, the odds are that 99% of the men you meet have some sort of objective they’re actively pursuing at any given time. What does that mean for the way you write men in your stories?
Men are pursuing goals. Given today’s subject matter that probably sounds obvious but it bears repeating.
The goal isn’t necessarily something a man will talk about. Maybe they feel embarrassed about it. Maybe they don’t want anyone else to try and get there first. Maybe they haven’t given their own motivations enough thought to properly articulate them. Regardless, the fact that a man doesn’t mention or understand his goal doesn’t mean he isn’t pursuing one.
The objective has a high level of importance, possibly being the most important thing in their life. Men are far more willing to obsess over and sacrifice for their goals than most women. This is why they frequently wind up running businesses, making massive scientific breakthroughs, setting out on quests for vengeance and destroying their families and lives in the process.
The above doesn’t mean that men never take a break. In fact, most men have multiple objectives and balancing them can become a goal in and of itself. With the exception of the most obsessive, men are okay with taking a breather now and then. Particularly when there’s nothing more that can be done to advance their project at the moment. But they’re rarely drifting aimlessly. They’re just pursuing a different goal.
Men will evaluate their actions first and foremost in terms of their objective. This is why doing something crazy risky like jumping over a spike pit is only stupid to a guy if it doesn’t result in the man getting something of value in exchange. The actions of other men are also evaluated in terms of the impact they have on goals, both the observer and the observed.
Men evaluate other men by their goals. The things a man values and pursues are usually viewed as the foundation of his character, at least by other men. This is why men who share interests tend to get along so well even when their personalities seem to have little in common.
If you’ve been reading this with a discerning eye so far you’ve probably already figured out that being objective centric is a double edged sword. Just having something you hope to accomplish and putting effort into it doesn’t mean the goal is good or bad. But when the goal is good, that focus makes it more likely that the objective will be reached.
To men, accomplishing a goal is something to be desired. It’s a foundation of who we are. So when writing men, remember to give them their objectivity.