It is interesting to give some thought to the physical aspects of a character. We have become accustomed to heroes and heroines looking perfect, with bulging muscles and flawless skin. So many movies demand of their actor’s perfection in face and form, particularly if they are a love interest. For who could love a beast?
I think it’s time we moved beyond that impossible idea of perfection. Does a heroine need to look like Barbie or a hero like an Avenger? Sure, they might have a few issues to sort out, but their form is never in question. I won’t deny the appeal of eye candy, but it sets up standards that are impossible to achieve without the budget, genetics, and time that few can access.
I have a few heroes in my books, but because they live in the past they are scarred. One modern day character yet to be finished has a limp and a scraggly beard that covers a harelip scar. Yet the limp was obtained by falling out of a tree – a lifelong love of animals that has shaped his character as much as his body and indeed, his future.
While novels are escapism, it might also be nice to bond with a character that isn’t perfect. The heroine who can’t cook is not bad, but maybe she has a burn scar hidden by a sleeve that shows you why she hates the kitchen? Is the man who is of heroic proportions a villain in waiting as the steroid rage bursts out? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a book boyfriend who doesn’t look like a Ken doll, but someone you might meet in real life?
Let’s pretend and imagine some not typical meet cutes – where the characters are not the remote beautiful people of the movies. She trips over at the airport, and the ex-marine darts forward catching her on his lap in his wheelchair. A woman of size happily baking attracts the nose of the millionaire who had a love starved childhood. Two emergency workers covered in sweat, grim and muck work side by side in a disaster, learning to love how the other really is as they solve problems and save lives. A perfect android and an elderly woman spend her last days together.
I guess it’s a little too easy to write and read perfect, beautiful characters. Easy to write – and easy to forget. But it’s harder and yet more interesting to write and read characters that grab your heart and claim a place in a reader’s memory.
Cindy Tomamichel is a multi genre author, with her SMP series Druid’s Portal a time travel action adventure romance set in Roman Britain. Short stories of fantasy, scifi and romance can be found on her website, where she blogs on aspects of world building. Her latest release -The Organized Author – provides much needed help for authors trying to navigate social media and build an author platform. Doing NaNo this year? Check out her free book NaNoWriMo Ready.
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