Friday, January 13, 2012

Channeling Your Inner Man: Writing Convincing Male Characters by Author Karen Wojcik Berner

KarenAuthorPicI always enjoy participating in blog tours conducted by WOW! Women On Writing because I meet ‘new-to-me’ authors like Karen Wojcik Berner, who joins us today.

Karen’s current release is A WHISPER TO A SCREAM and it’s Book One of her series called The Bibliophiles. Her second installment in the series is scheduled to be released soon.

A WHISPER TO A SCREAM is the story of two women on opposite ends of the child-bearing spectrum who come to realize the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side of the fence. A vivid portrayal of contemporary marriage and its problems, the novel speaks to a longing in all of us, a yearning that might start as a vague notion, but eventually grows into an unbearable, vociferous cry. 

Thanks to Karen and Jodi from WOW!, I have an ecopy of A WHISPER TO A SCREAM to giveaway to one lucky visitor who comments on this post by 8 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, Jan. 15. Be sure to leave your e-mail address with your comment, if it’s not included in your profile.

Karen is here to talk about women channeling their inner man and writing convincing male characters.

Men are not aliens! 

I know this may come as a shock to some of you, especially when your husband ignores you while watching practically any sporting event on television, or your boyfriend wants to high-five you after uttering a particularly humorous comment.
Women just don’t do that, right?

karenBookCoverI live in an all-male household with my husband and two sons. As a result, there are some days I could swear all of the estrogen has been drained from my body and replaced with testosterone. I have even been known to yell “Hit somebody!” from the sidelines at football games. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending upon your perspective, menopause is a not-so-subtle reminder my X chromosome is not yet lost. 
I feel a great responsibility to half of our population not to create cardboard male characters in my fiction.
Even though A WHISPER TO A SCREAM (THE BIBLIOPHILES: BOOK ONE) is a contemporary women’s fiction novel, it was important that the main characters of Annie and Sarah have flesh-and-blood husbands. 

Annie and John Jacobs struggle with infertility, something that affects both partners profoundly, but sometimes in different ways.

For overwhelmed, stay-at-home mother, Sarah Anderson, I was determined her husband Tom would not become a stereotype. Sure, he works a lot, sometimes ignoring his family’s real needs, but why?

Most women spend a good chunk of time each day with men of all ages, personalities, professions and temperaments. Pay attention to how they react to things, how they speak, their physical carriage. What is important to them?

Hang out with men. Instead of joining the women in the kitchen at a family gathering, go watch football or whatever sport is in season. Notice how they talk to each other. Listen to what topics come up. 

However, be careful not to go all Jane Goodall on the men in your life. Remember, it is a more subtle observation. 
When in doubt, ask. Grab one of your guy friends and ask what he would do in the situation you are writing about. Now ask your husband, boyfriend, son or father. Tap into the knowledge base around you.

There are two male classics book club members inWOWblogExcellence my series, The Bibliophiles. I am looking forward to writing anglophile Thaddeus Mumblegarden’s story in book three, which will be the first time more than half the book will feature a male character.

The series is about the members of an American suburban classics book club. Each novel spotlights one or two Bibliophiles and tells the story of their lives up until joining. 

The second Bibliophiles novel, tentatively titled HOW LONG ‘TIL MY SOUL GETS IT RIGHT?, follows Catherine Elbert as she bounces from coast to coast in search of her true self. It will be released in March 2012.

Karen, thanks so much for guest blogging. I like your insight on writing male characters. Asking male friends and relatives their views on certain issues really would be a big help.

Now for some background on Karen. She lives a provincial life tucked away with her family in the Chicago suburbs. If it was good enough for Jane Austen, right? However, dear Miss Austen had the good fortune of being born amid the glorious English countryside, something Karen unabashedly covets, so much so that she majored in English and communications at Dominican University. Like the magnificent Miss Austen, Karen could not help but write about the Society that surrounds her.

A booklover since she could hold one in her chubby little toddler hands, Karen wanted to announce to the world just how much she loves the written word. She considered getting a bibliophile tattoo but instead decided to write about the lives of the members of a suburban Classics Book Club. The series is called, of course, The Bibliophiles.

When she isn't reading, writing, or spending her time wishing she was Jane Austen, Karen can be found sipping tea or wine, whichever is more appropriate that day, and watching Tim Burton movies or "Chopped," her favorite foodie TV show. For more on Karen and her writing, visit her website at
Here’s a brief synopsis of A WHISPER TO A SCREAM: Annie Jacobs has dreamed of the day she would become a mother since the first time she held her Baby Tenderlove doll. Unfortunately, biology has not cooperated with her plan, and she finds herself dealing with a diagnosis of unexplained infertility instead of picking out baby names. 

Across town, stay-at-home mom Sarah Anderson is just trying to make it through the grocery store without her toddler hurling a box of rice at a fellow shopper. She is exhausted from managing the house, a first grader and a toddler, all without any help from her work-obsessed, absentee husband.

If you’re a writer, do you find it difficult to write male characters? As a reader, can you tell the difference between male and female writers? Remember to leave your e-mail address with your comment (if it’s not in your profile), for a chance to win a copy of A WHISPER TO A SCREAM.


  1. Nice tip--to tap into the male knowledge base! I haven't written a male main character yet, but it's something I've been thinking about. Good tips here!

  2. Great tips. Love this. No, I've not tapped into the male mind yet. Is there much going on there? Ha Just kidding (men).


  3. Karen, thanks again for guest blogging. Great tips. Wishing you much success.

  4. Elizabeth and Teresa, thanks so much for stopping by.

  5. I love writing from the male POV. They think so differently - so simple!

  6. Not entering to win, just wanted to add that more women should join us in football watching. Really!

  7. I've also spent a large part of my life surrounded by men - only girl growing up, then with husband and sons - and I can't write in your blog what I might yell during a football game. But I don't think I've ever bounced a scene off one of the guys with a "how would you react to this?" Very good idea.

  8. Thank you so much for having me here today, Mason, and to everyone who commented. And yes, Alex, more women should watch football. It's a great sport. :)

  9. Karen, I grew up in a household of 7 brothers. I have only sons and no daughters, lol! (I'm a bit more masculine in my approach to things) They do react differently to situations, although I think the emotional base is closer than we think.

    I've been known to check my thoughts on a man's reaction to a situation with my guys. Sometimes I'm spot on and other times I need to tweak.

    I need to check out your book. Sounds like a good one.


  10. Interesting post. Great book which sounds compelling. Most women nowadays behave like men. Yes, they drive huge trucks, drink beer, yell like mad at football games at home or out at the sports bars. They are one of them. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  11. I love writing from the male perspective. Of course I live in an all male household, too. Even the dogs are male.

  12. GREAT advice on writing males. I actually, informally, interviewed one to help me develop a character for a play. He was great. He later read for that role and, naturally, he brought the character to life.

    Play off the Page

  13. Sia, I think you are right about the emotional base being closer than we think. Excellent point.

    Thanks, petite, Carol and Mary, for reading and your comments.

    This is a wonderfully communicative blog. Love it!

  14. The book sounds really good - I would like to win!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.