During my twenty-two years of marriage, raising three boys, I’ve heard the following two phrases, several times: “Get to the point,” and, “Your point is?”
With only one other female in my house–my dog–you can imagine my relief when a panel of four female published authors, spoke at the Ventura Book Festival, and confirmed that I was not alone.
“Men and women have different ways of thinking,” said Mara Purl, author of The Milford-Haven novels. She explained how this is reflected in fiction writing. Women’s fiction uses all five senses–Women want to know what the character was wearing, her perfume and the color and style of her hair.
Men’s fiction is all about velocity.
When women speak to one another, they want sensory details. Men want you to get to the point.
If I said, “She wore a pink dress with matching sandals,” my husband would say, “So what’s your point?” Perhaps I should try a different approach: “She owns a 27 foot lanchon with a 95 HP Honda engine on it.” That might get his attention.
Starshine Roshell, columnist and author of Keep Your Skirt On, has a weekly column which tackles topics from sex and politics to family and culture. She writes about women, and men say they learn about women from her columns. “I explain to men why women cry in certain situations, and why women care about flowers,” she said.
Thanks to this excellent panel of authors, I feel better knowing that I’m not the only one being told to get to the point. I must confess that years of brainwashing from the males in my house, now make me secretly say, “So what’s your point,” when some of my female friends ramble on.
What I’d like to know is if you’ve been told to get to the point? If so, by whom?
To my writer friends, do you agree with the differences in men’s fiction, versus female fiction?
Jungle Mom says
That is all so very true. My husband suffered with 3 daughter and I in the jungle all needing to get our words out. This could explain why he and my son would hit the river in their canoe and head for the rapids every few days.
Perhaps that does explain that. My cousin has triplet daughters + an older one. he said it was unbearable at home, when all 5 (wife too) were PMS'ing at the same time. Poor MAN!
Craig Glenn says
Perhaps a male perspective on this issue will be helpful. However, I am not stupid enough or brave enough for it to be mine! I see your followers and I even see a couple of brave looking men in there amongst them. Who knows, maybe, one of them would care to explain for those of us, who quite frankly, are just afraid.
Personally, I love the details in writing. I struggle with the balance of this in my blogging. (and commenting for that matter, lol) I often feel that I have to write every thought that pops in my head and I can feel the audience slipping away as I drool on and on…. Kind of like now… lol
Interesting post Sonia, I hope you get some meaningful insight and understand my hesitance to being band from you lovely blog!
Elizabeth Bradley says
Oh yeah, the whole Venus/Mars thing. My husband always thinks I want him to jump in and FIX whatever I'm kavetching about at any given moment, when all I'm doing is venting.
I don't have a lot of patience for women that gripe about something and then won't be proactive about making the changes that would change the very circumstances that have them in turmoil.
Warren Baldwin says
I've said, "What's the point" a time or two, and I don't say it now!
La Belette Rouge says
LOL! My husband is the one prone to long stories that seem to be in need of a point. In my writing life I am long winded. In my speaking life I am brief and to the point.
I would never ban you from my blog. Now perhaps, if I were a man and I wanted you to get to the point, I would, but since I like details, you're safe commenting here. Thanks for your visit.
@ Elizabeth Bradley
I know what you mean about venting. I sometimes need to vent, and know better than to try to say more than 3 words to my husband. I pick up the phone, run into my bedroom, close the door and start the venting. I do feel relief afterwards.
I have to say that once or twice, I've said, "And what's your point?" to my husband. It just slipped out.
That's hilarious. Do you ask your husband the same question? "What's the point?"
Gramma Ann says
This is funny, because my husband and I are just the opposite. I am the one saying, "get to the point!" or "What is the point?"
I like Debbie Macomber, Nicholas Sparks, and Janet Evanovich. I will have to pay closer attention to the differences in their writing from now on. Most of Nicholas' novels are mostly modern day love stories, Catherine Coulter writes some of her novels set in the 1800's with a bit more mystery and gothic menace and romance thrown in. Debbies is more small town America, with a bit of romance, boy meets girl and family and community matter.
Now Janet Evanovich is just pure fun, with her mixed up life and crazy Grandma Mazur….
I know I don't write books I just read them, but I enjoyed your post today.
My husband uses waaay more words than I do. He can be quiet, but once he gets started. . . .
Having read your post, I want you to know that I resemble those remarks! No, wait, I represent those. . . . No, that's not the right word, either. I know the word I'm seeking starts with "R" — but being so Bear-brained, it isn't coming to me.
And as for getting to the point, I thought the point was to have a conversation about the transient vicissitudes of non-somnambulistic hypnopaedia. Did I get it wrong, again?
Like Gramma Ann, opposite! (generally) He's the one who explain from a to z all the details. When I sense 'oh, this is the long version' I tell him to get to the point! 🙂
I am also the one who gets quickly to the point. I am always afraid I might get people bored before I have finished my story. I do observe details but somehow I feel others don't care, so I try to stick to the point. Maybe it's just that I'm too much of a people-pleaser.
Yep .. my husband finds me rambling… in fact, he thinks most women tend to blab…
On the other hand, I am not at all interested in reading about what a woman is wearing or what her hair looks like.. I want a good plot and love to learn about a person' inner landscape.
I'm finding more women who say their husband's don't get to the point, than the other way around. Wasn't expecting that one. Nicholas Sparks, does write women's fiction, which is why he's so popular with women.
Just like I said to Gramma Ann, I'm surprised.
Is it time for you to hibernate again?
Another man who talks more than his wife.
Glad to hear you get to the point fast.
Your husband sounds like mine.
"talks more"…hm, what I meant is when he starts to EXPLAIN something…otherwise we're equal and have a good rhythm and balance when communicating! 🙂
I've never had anyone rude enough to tell me to "Get to the point".
I'm Irish, so I guess people know better!
I'm usually concise, yet colorful in my dialogue.
Since I'm the household troubleshooter for all things electronic, my husband knows how to treat his gal of 37 years..or he'd be in a real pickle!
Susan Cameron says
I had to grin and wince a little when I read your topic today, G.W. I remember saying in exasperation to one girlfriend, "Okay. You've been endlessly venting about the same damn problem every time I see you. It's way past time to FIX the situation. If you don't want to fix it, stop whining about it. From now on, just pretend I'm a guy who's fed up with hearing about it."
Hmmm…I'm not so sure about any big gender difference in fiction writing regarding sensory detail. For example, I've read Elmore Leonard novels that were 80% fabulous dialog with very little sensory description, and James Lee Burke novels as packed with sensory atmosphere as they are with memorable characters — both male writers working in the crime genre, both wonderful in very different ways.
Anyhow, just thought I'd drop by your blog to say hi. 🙂
I ramble and vent a lot, but really for me it is my thought process. My husband knows me well enough to know that I often clear everything up and see the light at the end of the tunnel if I am just able to keep talking…
He isn't the type to rush me. Now, he may fall asleep or start watching TV, but that's a different topic for another blog post.
I do have to admit that often, I am the one who is asking what the point is…but it is mainly because my husband will sometimes think about something and start talking about it mid thought…without realizing that I haven't caught up to what he was "thinking" about prior to him speaking.
I thought it was only my husband who kept wanting me to get to the point….
My sons are growing up to be like their mom – loquacious doesn't start to describe them – but then they are just 3 and 5, so the 'manliness' has probably not developed in them.
But, the fact that I take forever to get to the point may be what saved my life – at the doctor's recently, I had all the classic symptoms of one illness, and was going to be operated upon for that. But my graphic description stayed with the doctor, and on the day of the surgery he suggested one additional 'unnecessary' test to rule out something very rare. And guess what, that is exactly what was wrong with me.
The next time my husband tells me to get to the point, I know just what I am going to tell him….
My hubs frequently says, "And your point is?" I return the favor by saying, "There is no point. I just wanted to share something!" It makes me crazy! I just want him to know that there is not always a point to everything people say.
Someday…. he will get it!
I can so relate. I've heard my husband say, "And your point is?" too. It's like I want to scream, "Let me talk, would you?"