Monday, October 3, 2011

How to Make a Boy Hot

I recently read a review of a book I'm reading (FRACTURE by Megan Miranda, out in January) and the reviewer said that the lead boy, Decker, is "hot."

It made me pause.

Now, Decker's not ugly--it's not like people run screaming from him whenever he shows up on the page--but I didn't really get the impression that he's hot. There's another boy in the book, Carson, who's often specifically described as the good looking one of the group of friends, not Decker. In fact, if I were to try to think of what Decker looked like specifically...I couldn't. Not that the author does a bad job of describing him, just that his looks are not really a part of the story and aren't dwelt on.

Decker's the good guy of the novel. There's a bit of a love triangle (not an angsty, over-done one--a realistic one) with another character, Troy, who's the bad boy. Troy's dangerous and older and not good for the main female character. Decker's the boy-next-door (literally) and he's good and kind and he really loves the main female character for who she is. He wants only good things for her--even if that means he misses out on his chance with her.

But he's not hot.

So what made the reviewer think that Decker was "hot?"

I was thinking about that a lot this morning, in part because I got a fan letter from someone who said that my main character, Elder, is hot. Elder's not bad looking--but he's also not deliciously-muscle-bound-contractually-obligated-to-take-his-shirt-off-in-every-scene-oh-boy hot. I took care to describe him physically in order to show his ethnicity--dark skin, dark hair, high cheek bones, almond-shaped dark eyes, etc. But Amy's not instantly physically attracted to him, and I really didn't want their romance to be based on hot-people-making-out. I wanted the romance to be based on two characters who treat each other with respect and whose love develops from friendship as well as attraction.

Which is why, I realized, Elder's hot. And Decker.

They're hot not because of their physical descriptions--they're hot because they're the good guys. They do good things. They are sincere and true.

They are beautiful on the inside, and that makes them hot on the outside.

Which, honestly, makes me happy. I've never been one to like the bad boy--not the really bad boy. This is why I had a hard time liking Edward Cullen: he's physically hot, but he treats Bella rather poorly in the beginning of the first novel, and that made me not like him. (I realize later it's proven that he's actually good, and his meanness was done to protect Bella. I'm just telling you my initial impression of the character; his actions cancelled out his appearance to me.) There are several characters in YA recently who are the "bad boys"--hot, but often mean or even cruel. I've never liked these characters--I don't mind a bad boy with a heart of gold (hello, Captain Mal), but I don't like the unremittingly-kick-the-cat-and-spit-on-your-grandma bad boys.

Give me a good boy. That's what makes a boy really hot.


Jodi Meadows said...

Mmm, good boys. My favorite. :D

Heather Anastasiu said...

Love this post! Yes! Good guys, FTW!

Anne Riley said...

The male MC I'm writing right now is so completely smokin' for this exact reason. He's made up of courage and selflessness, and he's ridiculously hot because of it.

Sandy said...

Rory from Doctor Who! I find him adorkably hot ;). Even if he gets teased about his nose by the Doctor (which I don't get) Rory is kind, loyal, brave and true and that's why he has so much fans :)

Jenny S. Morris said...

I am so with you! I try to stay clear of making my guys, six pack abs "Hollywood" hot. My fav characters are usually the slighty dorky ones.

Claire Hennessy said...

LOVE this post. :)

Carolyn Abiad said...

There is so much more to attraction than appearance, it's true. Great post!

Bethany (youngbooklove) said...

My fiance is a good, hot boy, lol. The best kind of hot! You are so right.

R F Long said...

So very true. There's nothing hotter than someone you can trust completely, no matter what. :)

Diane said...

It's the whole package for me.... what's inside and out. :O)

Gabe (Ava Jae) said...

This is SO true. I love that more YA are starting to focus on the personality of the love interest versus the physical description. Let us fall in love with the character and we'll decide what we want him to look like.

Sarah Allen said...

Captain Mal...Mmmmm :)

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Susan Oloier said...

Great post. Yes, I think personality makes a character hot.

Anonymous said...

((notice that it's all chicks who've commented on this post lol!))
But I agree completely! If a boy has a heart of gold and treats her well, that completely covers up any nerdy glasses or weird hair or excessive acne. Makes it invisible.
Some other boys like this: Rory Williams (even though he keeps dying...) Otto from "A Long Long Sleep" (even though he is kind of... A blue alien...)

JennaQuentin said...

I found your thoughts on Edward Cullen's character interesting. I completely agree that having characters that treat women well is crucial, especially in today's culture that searches for the definition to manhood. I think a good man is not always gentle (think Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre). Also, part of treating her well is sometimes being bluntly frank or hard on her (think Mr. Knightly and Emma). A good guy was pretty rude/cold to me once-upon-time (he thought being French made him as different from me as being a vampire ;) Four years of marriage later, he is still tough on me sometimes, but always with my good in mind. All that to say, good guys should be total whatever-you-want softies...and hot main characters should definitely be sweet to their girls!!

Unknown said...

Great post. I agree, it took a while until I warmed towards Edward Cullen ;)

I think hot guys can be down-right homely as long as they are brave, resourceful and have gentle and compassionate streaks in their nature.

AmieSalmon said...

I loved this, you think a guy's hot because it's what's on the inside that counts. They are good looking because their traits make them so.

Debbie said...

Well said, love this post!

Laura said...

I think Amy said it best in an episode of Doctor Who a few weeks ago (the one where there was two of her I think it was), about how even though when she met Rory he wasn't the most attractive person in the world, but the more she got to know him the more she got to see how lovely he was, and now he's the most beautiful man she's ever met. Then in the last episode of the season, the Rory from her memory was a lot more 'physically attractive' because thats how she sees his personality.
I happen to totally agree with this, I used to like boys for the way they looked when I was young. Now I know that what's important is what's on the inside. This is a good message to get across to younger girls, which can be done through literature.

Megan Miranda said...

Just saw this, Beth! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. And love the good guys :)

Christina said...

I remember telling my sister I thought a character was hot and she looked at me weird and said it was a book, I can't see the character. I totally agree with you. It's not so much how the character looks, it's about how they act.

Elana Johnson said...

True. All true.

Anonymous said...

Give me a good guy ANY day of the week, and he's automatically hot. Every. Single. Time.

Unknown said...

Have you read LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR? Oh. My. Gosh. CRICKET! There is a guy made totally hot purely by his good-guyness.

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