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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In the eye of the beholder (Lauren Bjorkman)


Attractive features:
Gorgeous eyes
Gorgeous hair
Gorgeous lips



Less attractive features:
A hairy back
Skin lesions
A nose tattoo

When it comes to looks,  the boy love-interest in a YA novel often draws heavily from list #1. We’re talking a lot of green-eyes, kissable full lips, and well-formed, muscled bodies. Whew! Is it hot in here?

I understand the reason behind this. It’s fun to drool. When it comes to love, though, I believe the interior matters more.

To draw the focus away from the physical appearance in my books, I choose ones that are somewhere between list #1 and list #2. For instance, Nico in MY INVENTED LIFE wore bangs halfway down his face, concealing his eyes entirely, and eliminating the problem of having to describe them. Just kidding. Sort of.

But do I take this too far? The copy-editor of my latest book, MISS FORTUNE COOKIE, thought so. My main character, Erin, has a little crush on her friend’s boyfriend, Darren. After I established his awesomeness through his actions, Erin describes him like this:

He is as tall as Mei, lean and golden-skinned, with a broad forehead and pointy chin. I think of him as a Filipino-American Legolas from The Lord of the Rings movie, except with spiky black hair. In a word, hot.

The copy-editor wrote a note in the margin, “Is Darren supposed to be attractive?”

At first this annoyed me. Does every guy have to be a cross between Thor and Adonis? In my mind, Darren resembled a certain rock star. Of course he was attractive, especially if you have a thing for Asian rock stars.

But after closing my eyes and trying to picture what the reader might envision, I decided the POINTY CHIN was just TOO much. And took it out.

But I wonder. What's wrong with a pointy chin. Doesn't this guy deserve love, too?


4 comments:

  1. I so agree with you--love interests can have some offbeat features, and don't have to look like models, to be attractive. One of the main characters in my 2nd book has an overbite, and it doesn't make her less attractive to the MC. Nothing wrong with a pointy chin, either. It's largely the personality that drives attractiveness--or an indefinable chemistry that isn't about physical perfection.

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  2. So true--it's all about what the MC finds attractive...

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  3. I think when we make the love interest too perfectly attractive, it hurts relatability. Did I misspell that, or was that not a word until just now? We've all been in love, and the person we loved was almost always imperfect. Once you fall in love, his or her face is just the right one, just the one you want, no matter what anyone else would think of it. So I think we can trust the reader to get that experience in a deep way.

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