1. Kangaroo
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    Kangaroo New Member

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    Attractive characters?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Kangaroo, Aug 12, 2011.

    Hello, new member here.

    I'm writing a novel and I think I've created too many good looking characters. It's about college kids that gain superpowers. Five of my ten biggest students are attractive. They seem to be easier characters for me to develop. What do you think the balance between attractive/average/ugly characters should be?
     
  2. beaver777
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    beaver777 Member

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    Good question. Since readers more readily root for attractive characters, and whatever happens to them will have a stronger psychological impact on readers, it's common that writers make the MC(s) at least easy on the mind's eye, if not downright attractive.

    My current story has one average and one maybe-hot guy and one attractive girl, though she is only called attractive through one of the men who has a crush on her, which might cloud his judgement. I think that's a pretty good balance IMO.

    Attractive female protagonist is easily considered to be a Mary Sue, so I'd at least include a personality flaw or two into the character to counterbalance the good looks.

    It's funny how on TV everyone looks gorgeous, but people kind of tune that out. :D
     
  3. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    The good thing, young marsupial, is that attractive people are trending; see, attractive people like other attractive people. In fact, everyone likes attractive people. By that logic, attractive people are more likely to procreate and have more attractive people.

    So having a lot of attractive people isn't a crime. It just means that they live in a place with a lot of attractive people. Or people who are really judgemental about appearances.
     
  4. beaver777
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    beaver777 Member

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    Btw, I've got nothing against aesthetics. My post may have sounded a little like I'd have a qualm against beautiful people or something, but I don't. :)
     
  5. Rassidan
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    Rassidan Senior Member

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    It depends on the genre you are writing for. If it was say low fantasy it would be odd to have everyone be perfect but in epic fantasy it wouldn't surprise anyone. I generally try to mix in a few of each but as I write most epic/high fantasy I don't strive for too much of a balance between the two.
     
  6. Flashfire07
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    Flashfire07 Active Member

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    Well I'm thinking there are two ways you can go about justifying the number of attractive characters in the story, the first is relatively boring, nature creates some stunners and some who would be made more attractive by horrific fire damage. It's simply chance that you have this number of attractive characters. The second option is to have whatever mechanism gives them their powers make them attractive, if it's a sentient force it feels only attractive people should have powers and so modifies the recipients to what they feel would make them most attractive, if it's non-sentient then the creator felt that way about whoever might get the powers. But if you want a 'balance' my advice would be not to worry about it, in reality you might find an area with a lot of good looking people and another where everyone looks like they've been swimming in acid.
     
  7. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    It also depends on what you define as attractive and how much attention you draw to it in a story.

    Lots of films, tv series, comics, cartoon, anime, and so forth, have arguably attractive characters - yet no one really mentions it. The characters just look attractive so that the audience gets drawn in, but otherwise it generally doesn't affect the story much. If you see your characters as attractive, but you don't really mention it much - if at all - in the story, then it doesn't really matter.

    If a lot of characters are mentioned as attractive, remember that attractiveness depends from person to person AND that there are different kinds of attractiveness. A girl who looks "cute" isn't necessarily the same as one who looks "hot", for instance.
     
  8. Phunt555
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    Phunt555 New Member

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    I've always like the idea of having characters personalities match their looks. I don't sdo it in the traditional way though. I examine the conditions that they live in, (i.e. ugly, fat couch potatoes, or beautiful, simpleminded beauty queens.) I also like to make my antagonists very stunningly beautiful like gorgeous dictators or stunning murderers. I think it adds to the allure of the story if the antagonist has a lot of appeal. I think though that when I write about a team of people I like to define the dynamic first and then make up their personalities, after that the looks just fall in naturally. My advice to you is let the characters flow like they are real people and not to worry too much about the details of their looks.
     
  9. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    No problem as far as I can see.

    My question would be: how you are introducing the concept of 'attractiveness' into your writing? I always feel it's best not to have too much 'author voice' in that respect.

    It's also surprising how little physical description you can get away with. I describe my mc in about 2-3 sentences, if that.

    Now in my mind he's a bit of a dreamboat, but I don't mention that at all. Author's prerogative. ;)
     
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  10. Leah
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    Leah Member

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    I personally don't see a huge problem with it - as long as being "attractive" doesn't mean having big egos and being a@@es. ;)

    The personality of them will shine through and it won't matter in the end what the reader thinks they look like.
     
  11. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    Even the ugliest person can be seen as attractive from the right perspective!

    In my head, all of my characters can be seen as attractive (and they need to be - I write romance/erotica) but I wouldn't classify them all as good-looking. I think it's important that, if you need to describe their appearance, you make sure to point out the person's flaws as well as their better features. :)
     
  12. Kangaroo
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    Kangaroo New Member

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    Thanks for the advice everyone.

    I'm glad to see that having all these attractive characters doesn't seem to bother anyone. I think I'll keep them the way they are.
     
  13. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just a quick note - again, depending on genre, do you need to actually describe them? If seen that way through another character's eyes, and because there is some kind of relationship between them, I could see that. But, beauty is in the eye of the beholder - how do you know what you've described is attractive according to the reader? Personally, I prefer to 'see' the characters through their personalities, words, and actions, and make up my own mind as to what they look like and if they're 'attractive'.
     
  14. proserpine
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    proserpine Member

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    I don't have any issue with characters being attractive or unattractive (especially considering that most characters in movies and TV are attractive), but I do wonder exactly how you have come to the conclusion that your readers will find your characters attractive. I can't imagine that you are describing them as "attractive" vs. actually describing their physical attributes.

    The only thing that would bother me is if you spent a lot of time describing your characters physical appearances, because it is the least important part of the story (at least, in my opinion). People seem to think that if you know Character A has "raven hair, chiseled features, and emerald eyes", etc., that it tells something about their personality. It usually does not.

    Good luck with your writing.
     
  15. Kangaroo
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    Kangaroo New Member

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    I suppose you're right. I'll try to keep the physical descriptions to a minimum, and focus more on fleshing out their personalities.
     
  16. Earphone
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    Earphone Active Member

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    I think it would be interesting to hear a story told through a not-so-attractive person's eyes. Something that always bugs me slightly in fantasy, is that they wouldn't have toothbrushes, or acnepads, and most rarely if ever bathed back when. Their hair would be matted and greasy, their face an oily mess of pimples and sores, and their teeth would be yellow and rotting. Especially since every fantasy protagonist ever born is in the middle of puberty.

    Then again, I don't think most people would have any interest in reading that.
     
  17. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    But not all fantasy is based in the medieval times :D
     
  18. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I think it depends on the location.

    If a acting school, modeling agency, or other places one would find better then average looking people, it fits.

    But in a Fight school, unscarred people means they are new or so good/lucky they never got cut or injured.

    In the magic academy, they never got hurt in a magic accident? Injured while being picked on by someone before they could defend themselves?

    We don't write about the average person(very often). Since the average person is fairly boring. Wake up, go to work/school, talk with friends, go home do chores and get ready to repeat it again tomorrow.

    Above average does not have to include looks, but it is one aspect.

    Maybe look at the soap Bold and the beautiful, it is built on models that are suppose to act, rather then actors who can model or look like models. The setting is two modeling agencies. It kind of works. (Hey, I watched them getting ready for work in the military.)
    But now picture the modeling agency in say a dirt farm town of the dark ages.
    Where the average person has missing teeth, the ones they do have are yellowed badly maybe even blackened. It would not fit to have alot of good looking characters in one spot.
    But place it in the aristocratic cities, where the higher ups paid attention to the smallest details of their appearence. It would fit better here. The rich also bathed alot more then the working class, and took care of their hair better.

    Characters depend on the location.
     
  19. Gryphonboy
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    Gryphonboy Member

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    It's interesting that you bring this up, I'm writing a fantasy/sci-fi novel where the human population has split into medieval and hi-tech halves. I have the medieval/fantasy half being authentic in terms of disease and cleanliness. Save for the odd character who is unusual in their attractiveness.

    I don't see anything wrong with having a story full of good looking people though. It's a story after all, doesn't have to be real.
     
  20. Sharklol
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    Sharklol Member

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    This is a tough call to make in my opinion. Here's what I think:
    Sometimes I get really annoyed if practically every character is good looking in a story except for one character whose only reason in the book is to balance it out in the first place. BUT I do tend to like characters more for obvious yet silly reasons.
    And vice versa, if characters are ugly, especially the main character or characters involving romance with the MC, I find it harder to emphasize/feel with the MC (sometimes you seem to nearly fall in love with the character as well, but I feel this happens less often if said character is not pretty). But it does contribute to realism, making situations feel more severe etc. For example, in an apocalyptic novel I'm currently reading, everyone is ugly as hell with deformed faces and anorexic limbs because they are all starving and infested by the nanobots that killed most of humanity.

    So now there should be a conclusion, which is hard.
    Okay, I guess in the first scenario it would be nice, as other people have already mentioned, to make the characters look good in certain people's eyes, but avoid the 'hot in general' thing.
    In the second scenario it's okay to have ugly characters, but I suppose you could just speak of it less often or perhaps speak of how good people looked before X happened (that's what the novel I talked about did; the writer mentioned that 'she' was now ugly etc but the MC imagines what she must have looked like before the plague. This made a difference to me for some reason). This might avoid that the reader will start to dislike characters because of their appearances.
    I do think appearances are really important in a story, it not always being so obvious to the reader.
    I suppose it's easier to go wrong with a lot of unattractive characters than attractive ones so you are most likely quite safe.
    Finally it's up to the writer to find the balance, which is hardest.

    Good luck with it.
     
  21. walshy12238
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    walshy12238 Senior Member

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    I agree with this.
    Most of my characters range from average to attractive, but I don't let them become idiots because of it (unless they're meant to be, of course). I don't think them being attractive is a problem, I think it's a good thing.
    Example: In the novel I'm working on at the moment, my main character is a Bounty Hunter. That means he's going to have to collect information on targets, to help him plan his attack. If he's attractive, he's going to hold a little more influence over someone (especially women) than if he's un-attractive. In essence, it kind of helps my story along.
     
  22. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Hmm, good question. In my books, I really don't describe the characters physically that much. I make the occasional in-passing detail slip, so we know that my MC is 13 or 14 with long, fine, stringy-ish brown hair and she's thinly built with green-framed glasses. But someone like that could be pretty or ugly.

    If I were to ever go into more detail about appearance, though, I honestly think it'd be easier to develop an ugly character -- or at least someone who's weathered, or scarred, or otherwise not "pretty." I think with pretty characters, it's too easy to slip into that frame where the MC's actions are always logical, rational, kind, compassionate, etc. I'm not saying that pretty people are perfect and non-perfect-looking people aren't, of course. It's just that if you're forcing yourself to come up with unique physical flaws, you're probably doing the same for the character development, too.
     
  23. J.P.Clyde
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    J.P.Clyde Prince of Melancholy Contributor

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    To me it doesn't really matter if they are attractive and unattractive. Funny thing in a story it always seem like I attach myself to the personality and make do from there.

    For me in my books all my characters are "attractive". They all end up with inhuman features of some sort.

    "He was so gaunt that his own skin looked like pale bone. He would have been handsome if for not his face sinking into his skull. His eyes were like metallic silver, bright and ghostly."

    I have a reoccurring theme of pale white glowing skin. That makes them either look dead and handsome. Or mechanical and inhuman. Or sometimes just dead. I always like weird bright eyes, colors that you don't always see people with. And I always like hair that is cottony and moves in an ethereal almost inhuman way. And it has this mechanical shine about it.

    I guess because I have always felt a little inhuman. My characters express how I feel about myself. And I always give them some sort of inhuman quality to make them stick out of their environment to express how I feel like an outsider.
     
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  24. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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  25. KinkyCousin
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    In my head my main characters are often attractive (Unless it really suits the character for them not to be) simply for fun, but I don't go into great lengths of physical description. The reader is left with a lot to interpret for themselves, I just give them a few basic details such as hair colour, age and sometimes skintone and eyecolour.
     

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