A man once asked me

A man once asked me … how I managed in my books to write such natural conversation between men when they were by themselves. Was I, by any chance, a member of a large, mixed family with a lot of male friends? I replied that, on the contrary, I was an only child and had practically never seen or spoken to any men of my own age till I was about twenty-five. “Well,” said the man, “I shouldn’t have expected a woman (meaning me) to have been able to make it so convincing.” I replied that I had coped with this difficult problem by making my men talk, as far as possible, like ordinary human beings. This aspect of the matter seemed to surprise the other speaker; he said no more, but took it away to chew it over. One of these days it may quite likely occur to him that women, as well as men, when left to themselves, talk very much like human beings also.

Dorothy L. Sayers

9 thoughts on “A man once asked me”

    • For good ones there, I have read a lot of Travis McGee.

      Alter ego or not, JDM is a master of the trade – and Travis comes from him and HIS experience (plenty).

      I have learned a lot of what is possible from JDM. And, oddly, Ian Fleming.

      • Agreed.

        Issues of male pride, competitiveness, inadequacy, psychopathy, protectiveness, seduction, competence, vulnerability, endurance, humor, judgment… all are well-illustrated by those writers, and they form a lot of my own internal modeling of male characters.

        All of John D McDonald, not just the Travis McGees, is worth reading (with only one or two exceptions).

  1. As my father aged, his hearing became very bad. He had the latest and greatest hearing aids and care, but nature takes its own path. One gizmo he had was a microphone my mother wore around her neck. It broadcast directly to his hearing aids.

    My mother would forget she was wearing the gizmo, and at restaurants head for the ladies room with her friends. As my father said, “You wouldn’t believe how they talk when they think they are alone.”

    • As you can see from some comic movies, e.g., The Philadelphia Story. Remember when the Katherine Hepburn character (Tracey Lord) tells Jimmy Stewart’s girlfriend (Ruth Hussey) about her surprise that he didn’t take advantage of her being drunk to seduce her because he was too chivalrous? Were all men like that?

      To which his abused tolerant girlfriend replies sardonically “The little dears”.

      The old version of “The Women” is probably very instructive to some men. (No male characters at all — they’re all offstage.) Highly recommended (to all viewers). A fine classic film. (Stay away from the modern remake…)

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