I was thinking the other day about the whole “let boys cry” expression. It’s an important part of today’s feminism, it’s no longer only about woman, it’s also about the way gender roles and stereotypes affect men. 

And this made me think of a specific scene from my second book, I’m not going to go too far into detail because it’s not out, but basically there’s a scene that drives the female lead to tears, while not having the same affect on the male lead until they reach a safe space. 

I was thinking about whether this scene was problematic, although my male lead did cry, he did it later. And I decided after a little while it wasn’t, partly because the female lead is shown to be very open with her emotions very early on, and she gets this from her father who teaches her to be open with her emotions and not feel guilty about them. 

The male lead on the other hand is shown in the first book to be very distant with his emotions. He puts on a mask most of the time and keeps most of his loved one’s at arms length, there’s a good reason for this and it’s something he works on throughout the books. 

So, how do you write the emotions of someone who is emotionally distant? 

Well, for starters you have to know their limits. It’s not like throughout the scene the character is okay, he’s not, he’s just internalising that pain. That’s why he cries when he’s home. Which is the second thing, what is their safe space? Nobody can keep their emotions locked up forever, so when and where does he releases those emotions? Who are the people close enough to him that they’re allowed to see him cry? 

Going back to their limits, how long could he have remained in that situation before breaking down? 

They key to writing an emotionally distant character well, is remembering that they’re acting. They DO have emotions, those emotions are at play even if the reader isn’t seeing them, once you know that, you can see how they get closer to their limits and how those emotions drip through the mask