Why the Hallmark channel is bad for your male dialogue.

My exposure to the Hallmark channel has always been brief and unpleasant, like getting a finger pricked for a blood smear. And no, it isn’t just the acting, although that alone is cringe-worthy.

It’s the male dialogue.

One scene in particular stands out in my mind. It’s from a prairie romance called Love Comes Softly. (I can’t remember the names of the characters—sorry.) Here’s the scene: pregnant girl who’s lost her husband is staying with prairie widower and his daughter. Gal is in labor, Guy comes in to assist. Gal freaks out and frantically tells Guy she doesn’t want him in there.

Guy: “Gal…Birth is a natural process.”

*choke, snort, cough* Sorry, Guy, but you lost me there. What man in his right mind would try to calm a freaked-out woman by telling her that birth is a natural process? (Especially in an era where childbirth was NOT seen as a disease.)

Here is my rendition of what Guy would have said if he were an actual, real-life man.

Guy: “Look, Gal, this ain’t my first rodeo. I’ve delivered calves and foals and even my own daughter. This is your first, and if I’m not mistook, you’ll be wanting help here in a while. I’ll be on the porch; I’ll check in on you when you start hollering.”

Ah, now that’s so much more man-like! Practical, unwilling to intrude too much into her womanly role, and maybe a little annoyed that she doesn’t think him capable of catching a baby.

So here’s a little advice to the Hallmark channel’s script writers: don’t think like a woman when you write male dialogue—think like a man.

The Ending. Epic or not?

I’ve always figured the ending was pretty important. Like, it should be an epic battle of epic proportions–preferably with an epic soundtrack. Right?

Recently I’ve been reading and reviewing books from a variety of genres. The authors are varied, some new to writing, some experienced. I’ve noticed a trend among these books. Quite frequently, the ending just kind of, well, trickles off and fades. No epic battle of epic proportions. No epic soundtrack. Just a squeaky school band that, for lack of a director, slowly grinds to a halt.

And here I thought the epic battle was universal. Apparently making the ending epic is something a lot of people struggle with.

Here are a few tips for making your ending epic. 😉

  1. Make sure you delay the biggest battle until the end of the book. It doesn’t have to be a physical fight of good vs evil, but if you bring it in too soon, you’ll sabotage your ending.
  2. Make it hard. Everyone knows the hero always wins the last battle–but it should look like he might not. Keep us on the edge of our seats!
  3. Keep the emotional pull of the book as part of the battle. Stereotypical examples of this is the “save the girl,” or “save the planet” emotions. But, you know, whatever is the main thrust of the story.