1. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The hotness factor

    Discussion in 'Erotica' started by Wreybies, Nov 1, 2013.

    After having some great chat with Obsidian today over her piece, it gave me cause to look back at the scene I've posted and something else (other than my cause to revisit the scene) caught my eye.

    I've been very back and forth as to the actual physical appearance of my two fellahs'. The story is being written with the gay male audience in mind, men are undoubtedly much more visually keyed, and I'm in a conundrum!

    When I started out on this story, both my fellahs were the very definition of pulchritude. Handsome, built, tall, eyes with sparkle to rival the stars, smiles to blind weaker men, laughs both voluminous and hearty. They were veritable demigods. And then I tired of that description, and with a quickness. For some time I've been altering the appearance of Brena to something approaching actual mortal men. Deavon remains the very son of Zeus, though.

    With all that said, what's your opinion on that as regards Erotica? Be it str8, gay, whatever. Do the players have to be heart-stoppingly beautiful? There was a thread not long ago here in the forum where a member made mention of being told that his romance novel was a stillborn because the actors were not in their mid-twenties. That worries me. Would the same be true for a gay Erotica novel if the guys are not the very stuff of myth and legend? For several reasons, I would actually rather that my guys were less than perfect, or at least Brena.

    Opinions other than it's your story, do what you want?
     
  2. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Everyone has their own opinion of beauty.

    Personally my 'taste' changes all the time, right now I have gone off Asian girls a little and now have a thing for Indian women - not natives American although....

    Maybe what I'm trying to say is let the reader decide what he/she wants the character to look like.
     
  3. AlcoholicWolf
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    AlcoholicWolf Contributing Member

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    Speaking from the opinion of an asexual... and when I say this, it is almost my own definition in that I can find attractive attributes in women as well as men but I desire neither of them for sexual gratification... I would say I find flaws very romantic.

    For instance, a couple of years ago, I fell in love with a boy who was a drunkard. Needless to say, he manipulated me in many ways, and it took me a lot of courage to finally abandon him (he left for the United States, and so I had good reasons to seek another!)

    Strangely, in the last few months that I had contact with him, he had abandoned his alcoholism. In many ways I felt very bad about this. Perhaps because, when I was with him, I felt less shame for my own dependence on drink. He was almost proof that a person could have this kind of problem, and yet still be physically and mentally attractive.

    When I write, I often give my characters flaws such as alcoholism, or perhaps aggression. (Maybe they are traits I seek in a male.. who knows!) It makes it more possible for me to make the characters human... and, in my own opinion, it drives a story. If a character is perfect, I find them boring! Because perfection is an alien and abstract concept - nobody is perfect (apart from, perhaps, Joanna Lumley) and when a character creates conflict through their own personality, they become more interesting. They also earn my sympathy, as I understand their problems. I suppose it is in this way that I come to love my characters - and this I feel is more important in a story, that the reader should love a character. Then, afterwards, we can make him sexy!
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    As a woman, I don't much like stunningly gorgeous men. If I force myself to theorize as to why, the theory is composed of:

    1) I'm attracted to personality, and if I don't have an actual personality to interact with, I'm attracted to the evidence of personality in what I see.
    2) Society kinda mostly agrees on what a gorgeous man looks like. Not to the same degree that they agree on what a woman is "supposed" to look like, but there's still a lot of agreement.
    3) Therefore, "gorgeous man" is a sort of generic standard.
    4) Generic standards have no personality.

    I'm not saying that that logic comes to a remotely correct conclusion--of course gorgeous men can have as much personality as anyone else. But all the same, my response to them is, "Bleah. Boring."

    I have no idea whether anyone else feels the same way. You say that men are more visual; that may make my point of view less common.
     
  5. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lately, Wrey, I've been seeing more and more how novels are not films. I can't speak for erotica, which is not my cup of key, but I think in terms of story telling in general, appearance is 100 times more superficial than it is in real life. There are key things about a character that you can really drive home. Maybe its his size, or her hair, something that you can hone in on throughout the story and continually reinforce. But how do you describe perfection, really, without continually telling the reader exactly that?

    Have you heard of The Woman in White? The love interest in it is described to suit the old English time period (pale, light blonde hair, soft features), which fails for a lot of us today. But the Author is smart. The MC who describes her says, "imagine whatever you think to be the most beautiful woman you've seen, this is what I saw." Now, despite that, as the novel progressed, I stopped seeing her as attractive. I suspect that was the author's intention, but the moral remains the same. Define your character as physically perfect, but fail to deliver in terms of suitable narrative, and the character won't achieve much in terms of being attractive.

    Isn't writing about building a relationship with the reader? You're slowly defining and redefining something (could be ANYTHING, in your case its attractiveness) but that something comes over time. You got to work into the reader's mind, make them come to the conclusion themselves, rather than force it on them. Kind of like Inception... -_-
     
  6. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Also, think about it. Very attractive individuals, and I'm talking dazzlingly hot, are often very confident and high maintenance. The two just go together.

    Think about Catherine Zeta Jones, for instance, vs Megan Fox. Both physically attractive, but only one of them has personality on screen, and a ssuch, only one of them is memorable.
     
  7. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    You have no idea how glad I am you brought the subject up. My M/M scene I'm still working on, I'm starting to worry I've made the guys just a teensy bit too good looking. My main MC, to me, is stunning... wouldn't be every gay guys cup of tea, I'm sure. I was talking to another member about her perception of him, to see how it differed from mine, to figure out how much in the way of retouching I needed to do, and so I trawled the internet to see if I could get a reasonable likeness. I was completely freaked out to find a polish model who was, to me, him incarnate. So I showed her... and although, yes, she could see the resemblance, I hadn't quite done enough.

    Thing is... I aim to please my reader. So, I thought about it. What's separates Erotica from Porn? Telling the story, being in the head space. Ideally what I would want the reader to feel, is a sense of attraction regardless of the packaging So it doesn't really matter whether I'm writing gay, straight, bi, pan, trans, whatever... given that I don't necessarily know the orientation of the person reading, I try to connect with the things we all share.

    I've tried to muddy my boys up a bit by giving them a bit of uniqueness. These are physical attributes that might potentially turn a reader off, but what I'm hoping is that my reader will be invested by their chemistry.

    Ideally, my hope for this piece is that anyone of any orientation could appreciate their attraction.
     
  8. A.M.P.
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    @Wreybies

    I think readers usually make characters more attractive in their own heads they actually are. Description or no, I know I do.
    Personality is usually a something that ties into that. Mean guys usually get worse looks and good guys are generally more favorable.
    The situation the characters are in can also tie into hotness or eroticism. If the character is a sailor, automatic muscles, tanned skin, fair hair, salt on his cheeks. Erotica wise? Pirate sex!
    Age? Doesn't really matter unless they're in the 60s and all saggy and old... BUT anything under that an we reference John Barrowman, Kevin Sorbo, or Johnny Depp.

    Part of it probably is that people generally go toward the most attractive option in their heads and the same holds true for fictional character appearances.
    Many people probably find others more attractive if they have a personality they enjoy. Teenage girls like bad boys so tough acting turns them on so bad physical features aren't so bad anymore. (Just an example, not a holy truth) and perhaps a hardworking business man finds his housewife arousing because he appreciates all the good cooking and the love she gives him.
    How do you think ugly people ever get together with the good lookers? It ain't a mistake, they're funny or something. As terrible as it sounds, it's true.

    Was that sexy Polak me by any chance? :p

    Porn is gratuities sex.
    Erotica is natural sex.

    Example:
    Saw is gore porn.
    The Cement Garden is erotica.

    I, as a person, have many many likes when it comes to physical beauty.
    I appreciate many varying builds, clothing styles, frames, and whatnot.
    Sometimes, a bit of salt and pepper does me in and the next minute youth gets me going.

    The reader will always imagine what he enjoys without deviating too much from any actual descriptions.
    Unless something horrible is mentioned.
     
  9. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    And would you believe it. My main MC's sex partner is. :D

    Ahhh... you're polish. If you have flaming red hair down to your waist, you could well be him.
     
  10. A.M.P.
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    Nope, only past my shoulders :(

    For a sec, I thought you might mean James Jamesson :p (Don't look him up, it's probably not safe for work)
     
  11. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    It's 4.12 am, and I'm at home... I'll have a peek. Eek! Nope, not even in the ball park. You familiar with Bartek Boroviec... catwalk model? Too pretty for words. He and the sailor make for a good physical juxtaposition.
     
  12. A.M.P.
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    Ohh, he has a name!
    I know this dude, he is a pretty little twink.

    I follow James and he currently has a caveman beard and his hair is down to his chest.
    But I Bartek has very lovely hair himself.
     
  13. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Indeed. I've been very careful in my attempts to side-step that stereotypical black hole.
     
  14. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Ok, so all of this chat has been insightful as to what the reader wants, and there is little that has been said with which I disagree. Nearly all of the sagely advice as to what people find attractive and why are things I know from real life. I had a friend at university who nicknamed me Benetton because she swore I was determined to date at least one guy from every possible description one could think of. :p I'm, not personally attracted to Dolce & Gabana models. Given my druthers, I prefer roughie-toughie, not skinny, and definitely not tall. Guys become invisible to me above about 5' 9"-ish

    That's not my concern or worry. Again, I'm actively bringing Brena into the realm of "person you might actually meet and talk to". When I really started thinking about his backstory, there's no reason for him to be a strapping, barrel chested, mighty armed, swaggering Disney hottie. There's not. He comes from money and a rather sheltered life. The world in which they live is very 16th / 17th century-esque. No Gold's Gyms to be seen. Deavon on the other hand actually has good reason to be a pretty specimen with his shirt off. His life fits as regards coming to that end.

    My concern is that in many of the gay erotic novels I have read - and there have been many - the guys are rather idealized. There are a couple of publishers of such works that I have been researching and I buy the novels they publish to get an idea of what they look for, and the guys are really pretty.

    BTW, @A.M.P. I love James Jameson. :D Especially in his long-haired look. ;)
     
  15. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I think you could have Brena be Adonis-like, despite his sheltered upbringing, just treat the story in a stylised light—a genre piece. I'm really wondering why you are second guessing yourself. You say that as time wore on you got weary.

    From my non-gay-man perspective, I would think that you are trying to humanise him and make him seem less shallow by thinking along these lines. Trying to make the piece feel less clichéd, would be my natural assumption. Is that what your aim is, or am I misinterpreting? Was it to try and get away from the idealized imagery you started adopting this tack. And if so, why? I don't want to second guess your motivations.

    Sorry, for all the questions. I'm genuinely curious.
     
  16. AlcoholicWolf
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    Maybe if you finish the novel, and if it reaches the stage where the publisher is considering it, they will ask you to alter the characters appearances in such a way. But until then, maybe this is not something you should worry too much about. After all, often a good novel is one which breaks rules and barriers.
     
  17. Wreybies
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    No, no. Don't apologize. :) Discussion is what it's all about! ;)

    I have a few reasons, actually:

    1. I don't like the idea of propagating exclusionary standards of beauty and that there are ranges, i.e, if you're a 6 you can pick from a 4 to an 8, but a 10 is legally allowed to slap you without notice in public.
    2. On a personal level, and I know this is a little bit of authorial intrusion, but the Brena who is coming into shape now is a Brena I would buy a drink at the bar, though maybe not everyone else would.
    3. Part (only part, not the whole deal) of the growth of both characters is learning to see things from the perspective of the other because they have both been sheltered in their own way. Brena has lived a life under his mother's skirts and though her protection has made him a bit of a hot-house flower, her shrewdness and cunning (she's intimidatingly canny) has shaped him thusly. Deavon is sheltered by his life at sea, his own good looks and good nature, and a doting father. A charmed life. He's a lot blind to the intricacies of life for those of us who have to throw the occasional punch, feel like we don't measure up, or deal with intentions that are less than obvious. I want Brena to have a hard go of it on the Northern Wave at the beginning. I want it to be too much physical work. I want him to hate it for a while simply because he's not up for the physical challenge of it. Deavon's growth doesn't include any sort of physical toughening up as a facet, so it's not really a factor in who he starts out as or ends up as.
    4. And finally, yes, to simply avoid a shallow Disney/Harlequin Romance cliché of hotties hooking up.
     
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  18. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    No.1 Has completely cleared my questions up. I feel the same. RAMBLE WARNING.

    So, dialling down his outer beauty a notch or two—what is it that Deavon sees in him? What can you pass on to the reader so as to make Brena an attractive proposition without relying purely on his looks? In reality, if someone was less than your physical ideal, what kind of traits would you be looking for in order to overlook the physical shortfall?

    I actually like the differences you describe above. There's a lot potentially to work with. I like to compare and contrast. You ever see people in relationships where one partner in some respects makes up what the other is lacking and vice-versa? It occurs to me that this pairing could come across very much this way. What does Brena have that Deavon doesn't?

    No.2 To see you say that, surely there must be guys that need a character a little more down to earth they can relate to, someone accessible, to their mind. It's all very well having perfect pecs left, right and centre, but that is escapism. I rather like the idea that, given your setting, you are endeavouring to make Brena more realistic. And even better, giving him the God that is Deavon. What average looking gay bloke couldn't invest in that? What person couldn't invest in that? The unattainable attained. :)

    Again, I'm not being very helpful, but thinking on this is clarifying a few thoughts I've been having regarding why I choose to do what I did with my pairing. And the questions are rhetorical. I'm just musing out loud.

    Edit: while I remember.

    I have strong feelings on this. If you feel that this is what Brena is evolving into, I think you should go with it. Sometimes characters end up differently than we initially drew them. And you said it yourself...you'd buy him a drink. You painted him so perfectly to start and he lost his attraction. That says something to me.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2013
  19. A.M.P.
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    I've read quite a few books where the characters were described with non-attractive traits. Like... Brent Week's Black Prism.
    The MC is fat and whiny but had a lot of good traits. I ended up making him better than he was little by little.

    Brena can still be super good looking but not the same way Deacon is.
    A sheltered life could have given him classical looks with high cheekbones and a long frame like Russell Brand.

    @Wreybies
    Long haired James before he cut it short or the current caveman look?
     
  20. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    From before he cut it short. ;) In truth, wax the chest, delete the tattoos and metalwork and with lighter hair, he's a shoe-in for Deavon when he had that look. And since you know who these people are, for Brena, think Parker Perry but not quite so trim, with a few extra lbs. ;)

    (Googling Parker Perry is an AYOR kinda' deal) :eek:
     
  21. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    See... This question has me rethinking the whole "and they meet" scene at Megs. I've got Deavon playing the happy-go-lucky chum amongst chums out for a pint or two, and Brena coming in like lord of the manor come to pick his wench for the evening... That's not who Brena should be... No wonder that scene isn't working and feels porny...
     
  22. peachalulu
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    I like contrast - a good looking character paired with a person that is not your conventional type of beauty. Like
    when River Phoenix dated Martha Plimpton. A much more interesting pairing than say Angelina and Brad.

    The trouble with two beauties hooking up is that it's no-big-thing as you sort of know why they're drawn to
    each other but with a person whose not as attractive it sparks a lot of questions. Why? What do they see that I don't?
    You don't have to describe some hobgoblin. But instead of listing the typical sexy qualities - muscles, rock jaw, sensual
    lips you can target something and bring beauty to it - it could be something as simple as a neck nape, earlobe, a bare spot
    in his hair from a faint childhood scar or a crooked toe ( the piggy that went wee wee wee all the way home. )

    And then there's an option of creating further contrast like maybe the beauty can be a major klutz or be slightly dorky or shy. And the
    average looking guy can be smooth or suave or slightly narcissistic.
     
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  23. A.M.P.
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    Damn, Brena is a stud, lol.

    Yeah, James was way hotter and better back when.
    Still my favorite actor, I miss him updating his blog though :(
     
  24. MsScribble
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    'Attractive' - in fiction, is a wide, wide spectrum. You can make the most beat-up character attractive. The lankiest, most awkward man can be attractive. (Adrian Brody in Kong) Hugh Laurie's House didn't have chiseled abs, a square jaw or a bouncing butt, but women fell over their own knickers for that character in a way they never would in real life. With the written word you can squish together looks and personality to make something very appealing, or sympathetic, or hot, or whatever. If I ever read straight erotica, the last thing I would want is something out of the Bold and the Beautiful. Its boring, its pandering, its been done. Erotica is no excuse for laziness, or lack of authenticity or inventiveness.
     
  25. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I think what you say is very true. But I can understand where @Wreybies is coming from. Men are much more visually orientated. Do you write what you want, and risk losing potential readership by not adhering to the same formulas that, apparently, work. Or do you say to hell with it, and do as you please?

    I have no doubt Wrey can make a character attractive. But he is writing specifically with Gay men in mind, and that raises issues. In some ways his dilemmas are the very opposite of my own, as I am trying to reach a broader audience. It's hard trying to please everybody, and I'm aware that my efforts might only be appreciated by someone who has the same take on their sexuality as I do. I might be spreading my net too wide.

    @Wreybies

    That sent me scuttling to a search engine. Mmm... very nice. Very nice indeed. ;)
     

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