Monday, September 12, 2011

Character Attributes

When I first started writing novels, I made my characters ideal--nice body, perfect hair and eyes that glowed. Because I could. Because it was fun to create what wasn't real. A fantasy.

But I quickly realized that perfect characters could be a big yawn.
What makes a character interesting is the opposite of ideal. Etienne St. Clair in ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS is really short and Bianca in DUFF struggles with her weight.

That's what I like to read about because it's REAL. Real is the new COOL! :D
Besides, what makes a character truly appealing isn't that they look like a god to everyone else--that's very subjective anyway. It's that they appeal to that other character you're writing about in the book. *wink* The way the freckles dance on his nose when he's smiling. Or how her blond eyelashes look translucent in the sun. That's what makes readers turn the page!


(images: quirkyattributes.com, nymag.com, allkindsofsexy.com, weheartit.com)

17 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I've thought about this a lot. There's a lot of criticism about perfect looking characters in book, but here's my take on it. These indiviudals are perfect from the main character's pov. To someone else, they might not be so. But if the main point of the story isn't their looks, you're not going to make a big deal about it. It's just a given. Or maybe I'm wrong. There should always be some quality about the potential love interest that draws the main character to him. My last boyfriend looked pregnant but he had amazing chocolate colored eyes that melted my insides. Not so for my husband. But wow does he have amazing abs (which get me all excited).

Brilliant points, Christina!

Jen Daiker said...

This was a beautiful post! I loved how you shared all aspects of what makes a character tick! Their looks can still be great, but to have a reader relate it's easier to have them struggle with something. Even models struggle with something they don't like about themselves. No one is perfect.

Christine Danek said...

So true. I've done the whole beautiful thing too. I do have a cute boy in my one novel, but I've tone down the over the top beauty.
Great post.

salarsenッ said...

This is so true. I like developing characters that seem just outside the box, but not too far out there. It's nice to see characters with distinct differences interact. Love the reactions.

Kelly said...

So true. It is how you convey what everyone else feels about that character. Good tip!

Creepy Query Girl said...

Yes, I'm definitely tired of the raving beauties. I love it when a character has both physical and personality quirks that make him or her that much more real. Loved these images!

Christina Lee said...

Thanks, guys! Stina, you may have said it better than me! :D

Sarah Pearson said...

I like dorks. This shows up a lot in my ms :-)

Lourie said...

Dorks, geeks, and nerds my favorite. :) Real people. The best.

Maddy said...

Very true! I really like characters that remind me of me as a kid and I was far from prom queen :)

Matthew MacNish said...

I love to describe characters from the POV of another character. Because, yaknow, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

blueviolet said...

Oh, you're so good!

Lindsay said...

Great post. So true about what one person likes won't hit the buttons of another. Even the most (and I hate to use this word) imperfect person is beautiful in the eyes of someone who loves/cares them. And it can/should be the same for our characters. If everyone was 'ravishing' the world would be dull! Go variety!

Hope that makes sense. I've had way too much caffeine today!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

What a relief to see that picture with the women.
Great post.

Meredith said...

So true! Perfection tends to be boring, I think.

Caryn Caldwell said...

I LOVE this - especially the picture of different' peoples' ideals weights.

As for ideal characters, I get SO annoyed when an author makes someone perfect, and then they have to tell us over and over again about all these men swooning over the protagonist.

Michelle said...

I love the fetching pictures in this post. In my novels, I shy away from describing the point of view character as overly good-looking--in part because my novels are all written in the first person and it would make the narrator unlikable if she considered herself beautiful. But even the other characters tend to have physical flaws that I think make them more interesting--just as my beautiful husband in real life has an interesting scar across his nose that gives off a vague and misleading suggestion of a history of fist fights!