Friday, June 29, 2012

What's inside counts for diddly squat


While reviewing the female love interests in all my books, published and unpublished, I realized they all had something in common. They're physically flawed.

Melody's face was disfigured in a childhood fire.

Sage was transgender (she was born male).

Felicia was dying of cancer (and thanks for nothing, John Green).

Charlie was fifty pounds overweight.

Chloe was malnourished, and missing a front tooth.

Like any author, I loved these girls. I think they're beautiful, scars and all. But editors, readers, and people in my writers' group don't seem to see things that way.

"I loved Melody, but couldn't she have plastic surgery or something so she doesn't have to be ugly?" -reader

"I love Charlie! I think she should be the main character, not your whiny male lead. But why does she have to be fat? It doesn't add to the plot. Why not make her beautiful?" -member of my writers' group

So why do people want the girl to be sexy, even when the entire point of the book is that beauty comes from within?  Even when my male leads are such dorks, they're lucky to end up with 'flawed' girls like this?

It is escapism? So the guys can fantasize about a perfect girl, and so girls can dream of being perfect?

I dunno. But I did write a beautiful character once. Her name was Katrina and she was gorgeous. And the book was rejected because she was far too bland.


5 comments:

  1. Well then I too am doomed to the island for writers of humanly imperfect characters. All of my lead female characters have some kind of visible imperfection or obvious emotional scar. It is this imperfection that gives the character texture. You want Romancing the Stone? Harlequin has been telling the same story with perfect people since 1949 enjoy. But for me i want as real as it gets. Keep up the work Brian. We need to find an editor with a little more vision.

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  2. And yet I love those characters and find them more relatable than the perfect, beautiful ones. Maybe that's why I love your books :) But this, too, is why I think the self-publishing trend is a good one. Editors won't take risks, but authors will, and readers are all the better off for it (and authors get to keep more of the money!)

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  3. Melody WAS beautiful!

    In real life, we don't sit around telling those we love that they need to fix their teeth or lose weight or get surgery in order for us to love them. Unconditional love has a way of making us treasure however our loved one looks.

    I remember seeing on talk show on which they gave makeovers, and they made everyone look the same. Blech.

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  4. I love that your "beautiful" character was said to be "bland"...

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  5. Agents, in my experience, will use any excuse to mean that they don't have a publisher in mind for my ms, or can't see money to be made on it. Telling me they don't "love" my main character when I really do hurts, until I put the comment in perspective. Sure wish the Big 5 publishers would try to appeal to a broader range of teen-aged readers.

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