|Paul Dalmacio - the "unfunny John Cho" from Well Played by Katrina Ramos Atienza.|
5 Unique Things About Having a Silent Type Male Lead
by Katrina Ramos Atienza
1. Show, Don’t Tell -- Creative writing professors drum this into writers’ heads, but it’s even more important when doing a Silent Type Character (let’s say STC for short). Since the STC’s use of dialogue to explain motives or advance the plot is very limited, his gestures should count -- meaningful enough so that the reader picks up on it but not so obvious that you feel hit over the head with it. (“I get it, I get it, he’s in love, what?”)
2. Speaking of Inarticulate -- While the STC’s gestures reveal his feelings, he can still speak for himself -- but not always to the effect he intends. Writing a character who’s book-smart but also inarticulate was fun but also challenging. I drew a bit on personal experience for this one since I was quite the awkward small-talker in college (it’s finally improved through years of practice!). The key is how to make the STC sound all wrong but still have the reader understand that he’s probably mentally kicking himself for sounding like a jerk.
3. Lord Byron Called -- The Byronic Hero is an old trope that works so well because of our fondness for woobies (or maybe that’s just me; I shouldn’t generalize!). While the full-on Byron is too dramatic for a light romance -- think Heathcliff’s immorality and Rochester’s mad-wife-in-the-attic for starters) -- a Byron-lite version who’s proud, has strong convictions and hints of a slightly dark past is perfect for adding depth to the STC’s backstory. Paul in Well Played has a bit of trauma and a broken heart, and we’re all the more ready to understand him because of it.
4. The Right Amount of Sweet -- For me the most kilig moments are the ones that are all about anticipation: will he or will he not kiss her? Is she going to talk to him? You know, the thrill of the chase and all that. The STC is great for conveying this type of kilig because he’s so quiet; you can linger on those moments of anticipation without piling on the sugar.
5. The Grand Gesture -- Since we established the importance of gestures to the STC, what better way to seal the deal, so to speak, and win the girl’s heart than with a Grand Gesture? Think of Mr. Darcy buying back Lydia Bennet’s honor by securing her marriage to Wickham despite how much he hated the guy. And the moment in Pride & Prejudice when he tells Lizzie not to thank him for her family, just for herself. There’s also a big moment like these at the end of Well Played, but of course it’s not nearly as spectacular as what Mr. Darcy does. But I think it’s perfectly all right and in keeping with Paul’s character and how much he feels for Patrice.
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Katrina Ramos Atienza, born and bred in Manila, Philippines, has been writing all her life. She's worked in the fields of PR and corporate communications while blogging, freelancing and writing fiction. Four chick lit novels (Pink Shoes, 2006; The Hagette, 2006; If the Shoe Fits, 2008 and Shoes Off, 2010) are available in paperback in the Philippines, while her earlier short fiction works have been published in Philippine publications and collected in the Growing Up Filipino II anthology. Well Played (2013) is her first independently published novel. She graduated from the University of the Philippines at Los Baños and is married with two kids.