I have learned that most stories come in two flavors–plot driven or character driven. I’m a character-driven kind of writer. Don’t get me wrong. I like suspense. I like a good mystery. I like a good thriller. But what I really like is to develop a relationship with the characters I meet.
During my intensive study of the craft of writing, I have also learned that some of the best romance novels are written by men. Ah, what a formidable undertaking. I do, however, feel it is my duty to make sure, should some man out there decide to cast his main POV character as a Southern woman, that he get his facts straight. Girls and guys do not think alike, and even though Southern girls can hunt, fight, or tinker with an automobile as well as some men, they also possess a Southern belle femininity that cannot be denied.
So, all you guy writers out there, allow me to help you just a bit. Take a gander at the following:
A Southern Gal’s Guide to Creating a Character-Driven Storyline from a Southern Belle’s POV
Southern girls like to hunt. Some of them use a gun. Others use a credit card. Now let’s say your story takes place around Thanksgiving, the hours before Black Friday to be exact. Please don’t expect all the women to still be in the kitchen or in front of the TV after 8 p.m.
Yes, Southern girls like football–some do. But others are ready for big game. I’m talking major bargain shopping.
Yes, I know it’s Christmastime. Yes, I know this is the season to give, not receive. But we are talking SHOPPING here, Southern girl shopping. You don’t reallly expect a Southern girl to shop for others when retailers are offering 60% off, do you?
I don’t do Vera Bradley, but a lot of Southern girls do. If Vera Bradley is on sale, then the hunt is on. It’s every woman for herself out in the field. We HAVE to bag the bargains. It’s what we do. And we can only get the bargains if we KNOW what they are, i.e. the stuff WE like.
Now let’s say, Mr. Gentleman Writer, that you like to hunt. We women would NOT expect you to go out on opening day of deer season, quail season, turkey season, etc. and shoot something for someone else.
No. You put the scope on what it is YOU want, and YOU pull the trigger. You don’t say, “Oh, I bet Willie would look good with this buck in the back of his truck.” No. You’d shoot it for yourself. Put it in the back of YOUR truck, and take it to YOUR house.
Why then would a woman bag a bargain for someone else? Yes, it’s Christmas. But if a woman is serious enough to get up before dawn just to go to a department store, then she deserves her limit, and she deserves to bring home her trophy kill too.
By the way, I am not one of those women who likes to hunt. I prefer NOT to kill Bambi or his mother. But I acknowledge the fact that hunting does control the game population.
Bargain hunting is good too. Every woman is competitive, especially a Southern woman. I teach. I’ve seen the heels come off, the earrings come out. I’d much rather break up a guy fight than a girl fight. Girls pull hair, scratch, bite, and cuss if need be. It gets ugly.
It is my opinion that bargain shopping helps control this primitive urge that all women have to be number one. There’s something about snagging the last sweater or fine linen during a blue light special that makes a girl feel like a WOMAN.
And, yes, sometimes we do get caught up in the bargain frenzy. I’ve been there and done that a few times myself. One Black Friday I was up at 4 a.m. at the local Walmart. I didn’t know what I was in line for because women swarmed the stack of merchandise in the center aisle. I joined in, and before I knew it, I had three crock pots in my shopping cart. I don’t even like to cook.
A Southern woman MUST conquer, but not without saying “Excuse me” or “Bless your heart,” as she sees the look of disappointment in the eyes of the woman she beat to the last pair of half-off boots. On the inside, she feels like a winner.
So, dear Gentleman Writer, should your thoughts turn to the holiday season and should shopping slip into your storyline, please consider the heart of a Southern woman. Do not stereotype her as materialistic. You have to get into her head. You have to understand that shopping is a natural instinct. She is not seduced by the glitter and bling. She has a job to do to protect the name of all women, those who like to shop and those who don’t.
BTW…In case you are preparing to scold me for my very materialistic blog, please note that I am simply trying to bring a smile to your face. Surely, you don’t think I’m being serious. I bet you also think I’d actually stalk Steven Tyler. ;-)