Polishing My Tools: Writing Men

There’s a great online creative writing group called Write On Edge.  They provide information for writers, writing prompts, and fantastic community support.  There’s even a book club, of sorts, on the Twitter.

Here’s the Red Writing Hood prompt for this week.

This week, we’d like you to take an honest look in your toolbox and pull out one of the tools you believe needs a little polishing.

I don’t know if “writing men” is a tool, but, for the sake of the prompt, I’ll classify my problem under the “character development” tool.  Also, the word count is a problem.  It’s supposed to be 400.  Well, I’ll work on that next time.  (Sorry.)

This is another excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel.  Again, unedited.  I’ll get around to editing once I finish the crappy first draft.  Whenever that is….


David woke up the next morning at eleven o’clock.  He’d stayed up most of the night, reading “Christianity in a Modern World.”  The more he read, the more he realized how hard it would be.  He admired Sarah, and, above all, Bradley, the more the thought about it.  He knew Sarah would give him a hard time for being late, no matter the reason.  He wasn’t about to tell her why he’d been up all night.  She’d read too much into it. He would show up and let her assume what she wished.

While in the shower, he thought about the girl he was supposed to go out with later.  She was tall, blonde, too thin, and had the IQ of a sand gnat–his typical Saturday night date.  He always had a good time, ensured by consuming large quantities of alcohol and the assurance of an overnight visit, but he wasn’t up to it today.

Standing in his towel, dripping on the carpet, he dialed the phone number written on a cocktail napkin.  It rang once and a woman’s voice said hello on the other end of the line.  “Hey, Brandy, this is David.  What’s up?”

“Um, Mandy is my roommate.  I’ll get her for you,” the woman said.  David dropped the phone to his chest and then banged it on his head before putting it back to his ear.  He heard the girl calling to Mandy.  “Hey, Brandy, that jerk is on the phone for you.”

Mandy took the phone and he heard her confused voice talking back to her roommate.  “Brandy?  What is wrong with you, Lila?”  He heard the roommate’s mumbled reply. “Shhh, Lila, he’ll hear you.  It was an honest mistake.”  Then, to him.  “Hello?”

“Good morning, Mandy.  It’s David.”

“Oh, hi David!  I was wondering if you forgot about me. I can’t wait to go out tonight.  My roommate is driving me crazy.  She’s such a bitch.”

“About that.  I can’t make it.”

The line went silent.

“Something came up and I can’t get out of it.”  David knew he didn’t sound convincing.  “Maybe we can go out next weekend?”

“You know what?  How about we just forget it.”  Her voice was cold.

Thank God.  “Don’t be that way.  I really wanted to go out tonight but I just can’t do it.  Come on, don’t be mad.  Go out with me next weekend.”

The line was silent for a few seconds before Mandy’s teasing voice said, “I really shouldn’t but I can’t say no to you.  But you already know that from last weekend, don’t you?”

David cringed.  He’d spent the better half of last Friday night kissing and groping Mandy, whom he’d known for exactly one hour, in the back table at a bar.  If she hadn’t been so drunk, he’d have brought her home.  As it was, her roommate and he had to drag her to her roommate’s car.  He made the obligatory promise to call her.  Her roommate had looked skeptical and it pissed him off.  He’d called the next day before lunch.  The short conversation made him regret the decision, but the equally satisfying prospects of a sure thing and making the roommate mad won the day.  He made the date.

Now, three days later, he definitely did not want to go out with this girl.  He refused to analyze the reasons, but he had to get out of it.

“Alright, Brandy, next Saturday.  Can you pick me up?  My car isn’t running at the moment.”

Mandy, voice absolutely arctic, answered, “Screw you, David.”  The line went dead.

David hung up the phone.  Crisis averted, he tossed the phone on the bed, and went to the bathroom to shave.  He whistled happily as he spread the shaving cream on his face and made the first swipe across his face.  The second swipe cut his face.  “Dammit.”  He grabbed a hand towel and pressed it on his face to stop the bleeding.

Serves you right.

The thought surprised David.  He’d broken a date.  That was all.  No harm done.


He’d hurt her feelings, but it was for her own good.  His intentions weren’t honorable.


David flipped on the radio and turned up the volume all the way.  He wiped his face and got out his electric razor.  He finished the job quickly and got dressed.  When he was putting on his clothes, his roommate, Shane, stormed into the room and unplugged the radio.  “What the hell, David?  That shit woke me up.”

“It’s noon.  About time you woke up, don’t you think?”

“I was out late.  Anyway, I don’t want to wake up to that crap any time of day.”  Shane went into the bathroom and yelled through the door.  “What the hell happened in here?  You get your period?”

“Nice, Shane.  I cut myself shaving.”

Shane opened up the door.  “Jesus, you’re not supposed to shave this way,”  he mimicked shaving, flicking the “razor” horizontally across his face.  “Where are you going, anyway?”

“To fix a girl’s computer.”  Shane put on his jacket.

“Is that what you’re calling it now?”  Shane made a crude gesture.

“Knock it off.  I’m really fixing a girl’s computer.”

“Let me guess.  Sarah.  Dude, I do not get why you spend time with that chick.  She sounds like a real…”

David threw a pair of balled-up socks at Shane and hit him in the chest.  “I said knock it off.”

Shane held up his hands.  “Whatever.  It’s your life.  At least I’m finally getting some sleep around here.  It’s quiet without all the squealing.”  Shane dodged the shoe that David threw at him.  “Touchy, aren’t we?  Are you sure you didn’t get your period?”  He ran into his room and slammed the door right before the other shoe hit it.  “Have fun with Sarah at church or wherever,” he called through the door.

David hit the door in response and left the apartment.  He looked at his car clock.  Twelve thirty.  He decided to swing by The Bean Hill and pick up a latte for Sarah.  Maybe it would keep her from ragging on him too bad.  Somehow, he doubted it.


21 comments on “Polishing My Tools: Writing Men

  1. I like it. I think you did a great job “writing men” – – which when I read it over at WOE I had no idea what it was and thought it was the title of your story! Oops. 🙂

    I loved how the roommate banter went back and forth. That part was my favorite. From the mirror and the voice scene on towards the end.

    He obviously has feelings for Sarah. My first question was going to be why do we need to know what he was reading? That can go. But then I saw how he was “hiding” it from her, and his roommate mentioned church so I am guessing it goes with more of your story.

    I’d love to read more of this and think you did a great job with what you were planning to do!

    • What he’s reading is important. It’s hard picking an excerpt to share without the relevant details that came before.

      I will share more of the story and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

  2. I agree with Andrea. I love the banter. It’s crude, in-your-face, and feels so very authentic.

    You’re setting up the bones of a nice conflict/story here.

    I must confess…I don’t quite get why Mandy/Brandy is so bad. She’s maybe a bit annoying, but he’s the one who keeps calling….

  3. I think I would like to read more… it seems like a good plot twist or turning point fro your character. Maybe he is “growing up” and ready to meet someone more serious. Great job on the prompt and I had to giggle with men and tools in the subject line – i think I am five sometimes 🙂

  4. Mu biggest weakness is “writing Men” in fact I didn’t even attempt it on this prompt (still working up the nerve). I thought your guy was very convincing. Great work!

  5. I like it. It reads just fine to me, but as a female I am not to judge the reality of what goes on in a man’s head. 🙂 Still, it reads well, and I think that “writing men” is a legitimate tool. Most writers prefer one gender or the other, and it’s good to be prepared to write either.

  6. I think conquering a different viewpoint is definitely a ‘tool’. There was a wee patch in the middle where it wasn’t very clear whether it was Shane or David doing the saying or doing, from the ‘I cut myself shaving’. Otherwise it’s solid, you’ve got a good piece. PS. I’m a permanent offender when it comes to the word count, oopsy! 🙂

  7. I think it is done very well from a male point of view..I like how he bangs the phone on his head when he realizes he screwed up her name and how he intentionally does screw up her name in the end anyway..it read like a man and one that is trying NOT to like a girl for various reasons.

    It was easy to follow, the dialogue was fresh and believable and it was engaging. 🙂

  8. That should probably have been my ‘challenge’ too – writing from a guy’s perspective is hard, and you did it very well. I was kind of torn between not liking him (totally a jerk to poor, simple Mandy), and thinking, “Awww, he likes Sarah, he’s not really a jerk!” He seems overall like a nice guy, specifically because of the voice in his head – his jiminy cricket – telling him off for how he acted.

  9. I really like this. I think that when you edit it down, it will really shine. Right now I think there’s so much detail that it feels a little like you’re “trying”. But that, of course, is because you are, right? That’s what first drafts are all about as I understand it! 🙂

    • There is too much detail. This was for NaNoWriMo and to make word count, my first draft reads like a script at times. I also think it’s forced, but that will hopefully get better during the editing.

  10. I think it came off pretty good. It felt like a guy’s POV. David as a character annoyed me, which isn’t a bad thing. You made me feel something for him, even if it was negative 🙂

    Some edits will be needed but it’s a good start

  11. I have such a difficult time writing from the male perspective, too. I have to agree with one of the comments above. I am not liking this David character at all, but . . . that is a good thing. It means he is not flat.

    One critique would be to try to stay away from stereotypical behavior. Not all guys are the same (at least that’s what my husband tells me. Ha! Ha!)

    Good job! Can’t wait to read more.

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