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Half of my story is told from (1st person) male POV and he falls in love with the leader of a rebellion he's meant to be undercover investigating and trying to stop. He slowly comes round to join the rebellion, .

However, I am neither a man, nor have I ever actually been in love. I have a character dynamic between them that I generally like, I've got the whole 'what do they like about each other' thing. What I'm not sure about is, how much mushy gushy is too much? How much is not enough?

Is this too much: 'Golden sunlight lights up her face but it’s the glimmer of leftover laughter in her eyes that has me mesmerised. She hold out her hand and I let her pull me off the ground. She doesn't let go straight away and I try not to think too hard about the warping effect it has on my sense of time.' What's the limit of how much of that one scene can/cannot have before it gets old and annoying?

Or how much s too much of the whole, 'I'm falling in love with the person my boss wants me to arrest and that's not good for my job but the rebellion is actually looking more and more in the right and she's actually really amazing, and I think she might like me too and... AGH!!'

I want to have it, since that's something always something I enjoy in a book, but how do I do it in a way that comes off as believable and sweet, rather than cliche and trite?

(P.S. If anyone has any recommendations of books with a well written male POV (especially if 1st person) where they fall in love, I'd great;y appreciate it!!)

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  • Is this in character for him? If he's usually prone to metaphor, being a bit more vivid would work well. A more plain-spoken character would make it incongruous.
    – Mary
    Apr 23, 2022 at 1:33
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    I don’t like direct sunlight but makes my wife’s hair shine. I told her sunlight finally had a purpose. Meant it.
    – DWKraus
    Apr 23, 2022 at 2:23
  • @Mary Yeah, his chapters do tend to have more metaphors and similes in their descriptors. They're generally dry observations, but this isn't entirely out of character for him
    – aurorajack
    Apr 23, 2022 at 8:54
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    @DWKraus aw, that's sweet
    – aurorajack
    Apr 23, 2022 at 9:13
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    One thing I wouldn't worry about is not writing the male POV "manly" enough. Despite stereotypes, there is very wide ranges of males. Also, getting some test readers (or joining a writers group) is a good idea if you find it hard to trust your own judgment on whether it gets too mushy or not mushy enough. At the end of the day, the right level of mushiness depends on your audience's taste, and there's not some perfect level that suits everyone.
    – user54131
    Apr 24, 2022 at 17:50

2 Answers 2

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If you've never been in love yourself, the best way to figure this out is to either:

1-Ask someone who has been in love how it feels

or

2-Read stories about people who have been in love.

That's the best way to find a gauge for what to do and what not to do. If you are friends with a lovey-dovey couple, they can probably tell you what it feels like to be in love, and reading about love can help put you in the right mindset to write it.

If you're friends with a super gushy couple and even they think you're writing is too sappy even for them then it's most definitely too much.

The main things you need to consider are plot and character. Every scene in a story is meant to either propel the plot or develop a character. A good story can do one or the other. A great story does both at the same time. A bad story does neither.

You know your descriptions are too much when the plot has ground to a screeching halt because of them. The last thing you want is for your character to be sitting around all day, ogling at the leading lady for twelve pages but never once getting the courage to say anything to her directly. I'm sure you're a good enough writer to avoid this, but my point still stands. Stories need to constantly be moving towards something.

Internal monologues are there to develop character, but you need to spice up the writing with some plot development too. Don't let the main character get too stuck in his own head, especially if it means less time with him interacting with the female lead. I'm sure most audiences would prefer watching the characters talk to each other, kiss, and have fun rather than reading pages upon pages of the main character going on and on about his passion for hours and hours.

Example-

Him: "I long to see her golden hair gleaming in the afternoon sun. Her eyes are like emeralds, perfect little gems that burn brighter in the light than the everlasting stars hanging upon the firmament of heaven. Her smile is like a beacon of light illuminating the desolate wasteland of my hollow soul, breaking through the eternal night that once obscured my mortal spirit, and ushering forward a wave of euphoria and enlightenment that exceeds the comprehension of even the most brilliant scholars and academics. My adoration for her is unlimited. The fervor in my heart is unquenchable. I said all this out loud, didn't I?"

Her: blushing "You talk good. Wanna go out?"

...

It'd be hilarious if he had lots of moments where he internally monologues about her only to have him accidentally say some of it out loud at exactly the wrong moment.

Maybe that's what kicks off their romance. He gets so lost in thoughts about her that he accidentally says something romantic out loud, thinking he said it in his head. That might even be the core of their dynamic. He's constantly thinking crazy stuff whenever she's around, and it always manages to come out exactly what she wants to hear at the right time.

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There's no "male falling in love POV" to get "right". Unless you are going for that. (Nothing wrong with that either - who doesn't love a good traditional romance? I do. But that's a whole other sociological discussion. Best I can come up with is, let's respect each other when it matters?)

Personally both your examples are "puke making".

It's a point of view.

Personally I'd prefer

  • neither he or she realises at first
  • he (as the protagnist) does get it first. (I'm male. So this may be personal perference)
  • but of course he can't admit it. And, she is from his POV in the wrong
  • or is she
  • She meanwhile knows he is investigating her. The scum
  • He's doing an honest job though.
  • Even admirable in his adherence to wrong principles.

Well this is where it gets hazy, who gives up their principles first?
Is her rebellion wrong or right?

Traditionally right but I'd like the story where it's wrong! They just don't understand! Many people had to be killed for the greater good - and it's justified!

That would be counter-intuitive and so difficult (for them) and interesting (for us)

(- of course that sounds wrong, it's why I'd like this story)

Actually they best (story) solution is they're both wrong and just two people find some peace and love in the world.

Obviously impossible. But we need a "lived happily? ever after" resolution

NB1 see the film, "True Romance"

NB2, your question made the woman the passive target and the man the action. Don't

NB3, "(P.S. If anyone has any recommendations of books with a well written male POV (especially if 1st person) where they fall in love, I'd great;y appreciate it!!)" Shall I be pretentious? "The Iliad".

No seriously, read one translation. If you don't like it, find another - I guarantee the story is timeless. It's somewhat about what men do with women, but mostly about what people do to themselves or others. You'll find a version you appreciate.

To be frank your scenario is not the traditional one I'd like. If you insist I'll recommend Richard Morgan's sci fi books. That's a man who lost a woman. And oh god how he paid. Such a woman.

Other sci fi about women is available.... (e.g. by Alastair Reynolds if you insist)

What's my whole point?

People love people. Write that.

(If you really need "male people need female people, and vice versa" you can also explore Morgan's later books. Hot and violent and what's in your holster is what matters.

"Is this too much:" you asked. I think it was.

Also what RM wrote with his heroes and their women. - yes, equally.

So , moist...

It's not too much if you mean it. If your characters mean it.

Decide how frankly your characters love and write it. If the readers don't like it?
Well they weren't there.

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