But I believe there is more to women than “female stories.” Moreover, I believe there are women writers who can take advantage of the many readers, with plenty of money, found in the other half of the American population: men. There is more to them than “male” genres such as non-fiction, political thrillers, and sports.
At least that what my experience suggests. Last year, I attended the Stanford, Kentucky Book Fair. Seated with the women authors, I was flanked by historical romance, romantic mystery, and Christian romance writers. I watched doleful, bored guys stop with their womenfolk who perused the offerings, and decided to be proactive. When they got to my table, I said “Take a look at these two books. They’re for men. Helmut Wolf is the story of the rise of a new German dictator following dirty bomb terrorist attacks. War Stories is a compilation of my published war stories.” I sold out. One fellow and I had a spirited conversation about the approaching 70th Anniversary of D-Day, and how the Ukraine situation is looking a lot like Czechoslovakia of the 1930’s. He bought both titles. One guy bought War Stories, and came back in ten minutes. He’d forgotten to get my signature because we’d gotten involved in a conversation. Another fellow told me about his antique gun collection and gave me his phone number in case I needed some weapon expertise.
Well, that may be okay for you, I can hear you saying, you taught political science. How do women write for men when they aren’t familiar with things like politics and war? It isn’t as difficult as you might think. For example, Warflower (Printer’s Devil Review, Vol. 2, No. 2, 2012), in War Stories, is about an eleven year old girl during the WWII Siege of Leningrad, who becomes a partisan. The larger story—the defense of the city by mostly women, children, and the old—is one of the most valiant stories of the Eastern Front. The Russians must supply the city if it is to hold out, and save its great heritage. To accomplish this, despite Nazi shelling and body-numbing cold, the Russians built a railroad over frozen Lake Ladoga. After 900 days, not one Nazi jackboot set foot inside—unless you count the fictional spy that saves Olga for a savage mission. It’s not female-free, but it appeals to men because of its adult elements, setting, and details.
The Truth About Thurman (Underground Voices Anthology 2014) is about a young soldier who delivers a message that terrorists have captured a female helicopter pilot, whose dog tags identify her as a Jew, and her gay navigator, identified by the picture he carries of him and his husband. The terrorists will spare one; the Commander must choose. The dilemma, a Sophie’s Choice riff, appeals to intellect, but the outcome is as gut-wrenching as any poem about period cramps or a divorce can deliver.
All you need are some basic materials. The World War II Almanac 1931-1945, by Robert Goralski, for example, is a great day-by-day account, and plenty of tables and lists of pertinent information. Casualty rates by country. Leading fighter aces by country. Did you know that 38.8% of the 6,332,000 U.S. men and women who fought were volunteers? What may be just another factoid to some, is actually 6,332,000 stories that could be told to writers who could tell them to the world.
The next time you begin a story, why not challenge yourself as a writer? If you can write for the male market, you may find yourself being published more and faster than you’d imagine as men, especially those with a literary bent, constitute an untapped, underserved, and lucrative market.
Ask yourself: Can my story cross the gender line? Can I put my characters in a larger milieu, like Casablanca, and fit the love and sex in a scenario that appeals to grown-up men?
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