And you needn’t be a female writer to succumb!
Lillian Glass defines a “Toxic Man” as one who elicits negative emotions from you, behaves badly toward you or doesn’t treat you right, or makes you feel bad about yourself (thus affecting your behavior and lowering your self-esteem). Substitute “your character” for “you” and voila! You have the makings of a great deal of tension in scene after scene and a lot of sympathy for your character.
Glass’s book includes questionnaires to identify specific ways in which the Toxic Man elicits negative emotions.
Under the heading “How Does He Behave Toward You?” there are several subheadings: sadistic behavior, manipulative behavior, dishonest behavior, selfish behavior, non-communicative behavior, critical and judgmental behavior, angry behavior, embarrassing or shaming behavior, controlling behavior, and jealous behavior.
And under the heading “How Does He Make You Feel about Yourself?” the subcategories are: feeling emotional changes (feeling depressed, hopeless, frustrated, anxious or panicky, angry, empty, etc.); feeling afraid or fearful; feelings of self-doubt; physical changes (such as sickness, headache, weight gain or loss); feelings of guilt and shame; or just not feeling like your old self.
The Eleven Toxic Types of Men:
- The jealous competitor
- The sneaky passive-aggressive silent-but-deadly erupting volcano
- The arrogant self-righteous know-it-all
- The seductive manipulative cheating liar
- The angry bullying control freak
- The instigating backstabbing meddler
- The self-destructive gloom-and-doom victim
- The wishy-washy spineless wimp
- The selfish me-myself-and-I narcissist
- The emotional refrigerator
- The socio-psychopath
Glass’s book is accessible, gripping, and a great read. I recommend it to writers in any genre!
AND REMEMBER: role-reversal is always a great alternative! For every toxic man, there’s a toxic woman!