Thursday, 28 June 2012

Writer's Corner: Boy Oh Boy!

Last month I discussed the difficulties of writing distinguishing female YA heroine POVs. See THIS POST for a refresher. This time, I want to talk about the other most significant (usually) character in a YA book: The love interest.
      The same problems that I encounter when trying to write a heroine are cropping up when I start to craft their love interest. Writers who claim they don't put their own likes/dislikes into their love interests are deluding themselves. Why would I want to write about someone I don't find attractive?
      The strange thing is that when I'm reading other people's books I fall in book love with many many different types of love interests. I have book crushes on Dimitri Belikov from Vampire Academy, Jonah Griggs from Jellicoe Road, Will Trombol from Saving Francesca, Finnick from The Hunger Games, Curran from the Kate Daniels books. These boys come in all shapes and sizes. I can see the slight similarities but for the most part they are all different. Yet when I go to write my own love interests they all essentially morph into this:

Or really, what he represents to me. The tall, dark, handsome silent guy. So, I'm the first to admit I have a Ben Barnes obsession, but now it's just getting annoying. And pretty boring too. I want to be able to write the funny guy, the sensitive guy, the sarcastic guy. I just can't get the right feel for them. And I'm doing the future telling thing again, but  I can imagine readers picking up on the extreme similarities of my love interests once I have more than one book out.
     I think the main issue is that I take the love interest mold and then try to create the plot and everything around an already established, very much fixed character. As than having a character evolve organically. For example: I am plotting a book about angels. Cue Ben Barnes cut out love interest. Before I know it, I've created a million scenarios to fit around his personality. And I try and make him perfect. Despite the fact that my angel character is disenchanted with humanity and is just really over having to save a race of selfish, deceitful humans. I know a snarky, egotistical personality would be more fitting for my angel, but I keep wanting him to be wise and compassionate instead.And this cycle happens again and again in all of my books.
     I know that there are no new personalities in book just as there aren't really any new plot ideas, but as a reader, I think I'd get a bored reading about the same kind of love interest all the time. I could try to tweak my love interests, but I'm worried I won't be as interested in them and therefore won't be able to write as strong a character as I intend.
      Now that this has turned into a babbling mess of a rant, my real question to you guys is: Who is your all time favourite love interest and why? Are there times when you get bored of reading about one "type" of love interest? And most importantly, would you read a book devoid of love interest material altogether?

28 comments:

  1. All time favorite?! GAH! There's no way I could narrow it down. Although... as of recent times, I've fallen in love with Four/Tobias from Divergent. ;) I don't know if I ever get bored of the same types of guys. I think it's because it's the type of guy I want to find. Lol. I would read a book without a love interest, if it is intriguing enough to me. I do lean more toward romance though. I have enjoyed books that hint toward a possible romance, but none happen, so, I suppose that works too. :)

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    1. I was going to say Four/Tobias too but I really dislike Tris so that cancels him out for me. I'm one who can read a book with little or no love interest as well as long as the plot is engaging. But I fear that most of my target audience would like some kind of romance.

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  2. I am going to separate two things writing and reading. When reading give me a brooding male, maybe a little alpha-male, but not enough to make him authoritative, just enough to give him an edge. Let him be strong a silent, yep! That's what I like to read.

    Soooo much different from what I like to write. Or the guy I am good at writing. I found this out very early on! It is super easy for me to make the outspoken bad boy. You know the one, even his sexuality might be questionable, and truthfully he just doesn't give a damn on what you think about it. He is rebellious and true to his heart, but often time self centered. That's my man! He has some growing to do, and that's where the magic happens :D All my brooding guys in my own writing end up dead, or the way way too good guys. You know the ones with all that honor? They end up very dead. Wow, I went on and on, I don't even have a point to make. Mostly because I don't know why any of that is.

    Beth ^_^
    http://sweetbooksnstuff.blogspot.com/

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    1. I write the bad boy super easily as well! And it's so hard not to make them the love interest because they're usually more interesting in terms of character arc. But I really want to read a book where the good guy wins out.

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  3. Ah, I admire how you can always find interesting and different topic to bring every time in your post, Lan! <3

    I think my absolute-favorite-I-love-him-forever are Finnick Odair, Peeta Mellark, and Adrian Ivashkov. Most of the time I fall for the teasing and playful guys, but lately I think I appreciate good guys more. I think the swoon-worthy guys do not have to be the love interest. I'm not fan of love triangle, so I'm always grateful for YA heroines who are not torn between two or more guys. I think the brother or the best guy friend could be swoon-worthy too! I heard Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris has very swoon-worthy guy best friend although he is not the heroine's love interest.

    I LOVE Finnick although he's not the love interest. I almost hope that he is. ;)

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    1. That's a great idea Hilda! I've never thought to make the swoon worthy guy the best friend. I always think if that's the case why don't they get together???

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  4. I knew I was going to love this post from the title alone, and I WAS RIGHT! x)

    ONE of my favourite book boys of right now -- only because I have to point out that it's hard to choose one from a million LOL -- has to be Blue Valentine from Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross. Because even though he's a bad boy who's a jerk on the outside but actually super-sweet on the inside, he's DIFFERENT from all the other bad boys I know. (Blue hair, piercings, lyric-written jeans, very sarcastic, SO lovable...) I admit to being weak in the knees for bad boys.

    But my fave boys are almost always the ones who can make me laugh -- so basically, the SNARKY boys! Will Herondale, Jace Lightwood, Adrian Ivashkov, Tod Hudson, and the lot :) But truth be told, I still have soft spots for the sweet guys too! I find that (because there are less of them), they stand out more. I don't mind the same types of book boys (although I draw the line at stereotypes), but I love getting out-of-the-norm boys too, you know? :)

    As for the non-romance thing... I don't think I've read one of those books in ages LOL! But I'm willing to give it a shot if the story is good enough ;) <3

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    1. I have heard so much about Blue Valentine :) Must get my hands on Killing Me Softly. I like snarky boys too but I also like them to be able to handle themselves. Hence why I am less impressed with Mr Ivashkov as opposed to My Belikov.

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  5. First off, I love the title of this post! Second, Ben always takes my breath away. I stared at the picture just a little too long. ;)

    So, yeah, I find myself liking different personalities in "significant other characters" all the time. I'm no good at writing them, though. I tend to do what you do, and write the same character over and over. So annoying. If you figure out how NOT to do this, let me know!

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    1. Hahaha Jenny, I could say a lot of embarrassing things about me and my obsession with Ben but I should prob try and keep some cred in tact.

      You love the underdogs and so do I! Though we both must agree that Raven from Lisa Shanahan's book is just too amazing.

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  6. I love this post! I think a lot of us readers are more attracted to the tall, dark, and handsome bad boy types, mostly because they're so full of vices, and makes for a far more interesting role. Right now, my favorite character would have to be Christian Grey from 50 shades. He is a deeply disturbed character, and still has the reader swooning, and wishing we all had a Christian Grey in our lives. But I totally agree with this post. When we write, we always add a hint of what we long for in a guy.

    Thanks for stopping by and giving your input,
    @ Livin' Life through Books

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    1. I am so on the same page Felicia. Tall, dark and handsome just tends to scream allure doesn't it? As opposed to the happy just that tends to be a bit more shallow. Though I would love to be able to write a character who has issues but is still great despite it all.

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  7. Oddly, the guys I like so much in books are probably the same ones I'd think were complete jerks in real life! Currently I have a little crush on Daemon from Jennifer L. Arementrouts Obsidian.

    I have to give you kudos for being aware of your tendency to create the same type of male character. Not all writers are so self aware and I'll admit that I'm a little disappointed when it seems like my favorite authors can only write one type of love interest. That being said, I'm sure it's not easy! I wish I could write a really funny guy, but it hasn't happened yet!

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    1. J.J, I'm the complete opposite. I can enjoy the creeps because they're living up to their archetype, but I still despise them and wish they'd just die. My reality/fiction barrier is almost non existent!

      I am always so aware of the things I do wrong in my writing. I can't write a funny guy either. Mostly because I'm too worried people will think it's not funny at all.

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  8. Well, I think the answer is to write about a girl and a guy and just make them work together, regardless of making the guy be "love-interest" material. Because, in real life, no one is born "love-interest" material. We just find people who are compatible with us and go from there, with many bumps and scrapes along the way.

    Ask yourself why you like the specific heroes you do. Finnick wasn't meant to be the typical love interest guy, or he would have been Katniss' boyfriend. But, he WAS the guy who was exploited for his physical attractiveness by the Capitol. Ben Barnes himself is just a guy who exists to live and breathe, not to be any woman's man. If he's hot stuff, well, that's not his fault. He just is to a lot of women.

    I end up liking types myself, but they end up looking all very different because they really only need to be the overprotective type that never judges or hates on perfectly good people. They can look pretty much however, but I do like them tall and good-looking. I do like white hair and blue eyes in a lot of my fave characters, but if they aren't overprotective and cool about being friends with lots of different people, I don't care about them.

    Maybe you should be more random when you create a male character hero, rather than make him a certain way. If he's like a child of yours, you won't have a say in how he turns out, anyway! (But, you can help mold him to a degree.)

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    1. That's a good point. Though I'm trying to branch out with my female MCs as well but at the moment they're all pretty on par. Which is why it's hard to write their corresponding love interests!

      I think I'm going to just write the love interest I think will fit best and that I'm attracted to because I will write those better. And you and I disagree of Curran as an ideal of protectiveness so something I write could totally put you off!

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  9. FINNICK. MMMMMM, YES PLEASE.

    Seriously though... man, love interests are so hard for me. They're NOT difficult for me to write but I do struggle with them because I personally tend to write the broken hero very well. But I don't write, say, the boy next door (which I love reading about) that often or that well. So being diverse, breaking out of the mold can be very difficult. I wish you lots of luck with that!

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    1. Isn't it funny? I love reading about the boy next door. But I can't write him either. He's very elusive. Melina Marchetta does an amazing job of writing ordinary boys but somehow manages to make them incredibly swoon worthy. I don't get it.

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  10. OMG, I love your post topic! You always come up with such good writing topics.

    The love interest personality I find the least attractive: the guy who needs emotional rescuing. I see this a LOT in YA fiction -- the teenage guy who's been hurt / wounded / broken in some way, and because of that, resists the affections of the girl he cares about. The girl must then batter down his barrier, win his love, and "save" him from his torment. The two who immediately come to mind are Will from Clockwork Angel and Jace from The Mortal Instruments.

    As a grown woman with a mortage to pay and a full-time job, boys who need rescuing are SO not my type . . . then again, I'm not necessarily the target audience.

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    1. Camille, you hit the nail on the head. I don't mind a bit of a dark past that the love interest is trying to overcome, but one who needs saving and being drawn out is not my thing. I can't stand the guys from any of Cassandra Clare's books.

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  11. I have the same problem! Despite the fact I like so many different kinds of male characters the ones that I try to write are a carbon copy of well....Ben Barnes! Love that picture by the way! I just finished reading a book actually where the love interest was so disappointing that I actually wish that the author had eliminated the love plot from the story altogether. Great blog topic!

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    1. I do that too. Whenever I can't identify with the love interest I wish there wasn't any romance either. Something I tend to do a lot of is not have much romance in the first book of my series at all which I worry might hurt the popularity of my stories.

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  12. So happy you included Finnick in your list. Best character of the series. Um, let's see, favorite of all time? Gah! Really?! Not sure I can answer that one. My first book crush was Spiller from 'The Borrowers.' Any/all Jane Austen heroes are up there. The beast/prince from Beauty and the Beast (& most retellings). Pretty much any hero/anti-hero from a Robin McKinley book, and also any hero from an L.M. Montgomery book.

    I don't really enjoy male love interests who are too perfect (like I felt Adam was in 'Shatter Me'). They need to be flawed. But on the other hand, I don't always like the "bad boy" type either. But recently I really enjoyed the character of Blue in 'Kill Me Softly,' and he was a kind of jerk. But, he was also doing it to save her.

    Basically I think I'm saying I also don't have a specific type when it comes to reading books. Writing books... I might be in the same boat with you. I tend to write the same character. Only mine is sarcastic and snarky. :)

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    1. I don't like the too perfect love interests either. That just equals boring to me. I felt like Adam didn't have much of a personality. Not when you put him next to Warner despite the latter being a bit nuts. Which is why bad boys are so much more fun to write.

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  13. JONAH GRIGGS!!! I don't need to explain the reason for that to you :) I definitely tend to go for the strong, silent type in fiction, but at the same time, I think there's something to be said for the exuberant, open, honest type too. I'll admit, though, that I usually feel a bit let down if there isn't at least some romantic story line. I'm too much of a romantic, I guess.

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    1. How does Marchetta do it?? I am in love with all her boys. Even the minor characters are simply amazing. I can't even put my finger on what exactly it is I adore about Jonah. He's strong and silent yes but not brooding or anything. I think I need to read Jellicoe Road again.

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  14. Ugh. Impossible! There's no way for me to tell you my love interest. I love them all, mostly your cookie cutter guy who'sout for my best interests and yada yada yada. It's funny because i'm experiencing this now in my book. As you know I'm coming from a guys perspective, and if you havent already noticed, I'm a girl (ha!). So I'm trying to make sure the guy doesnt have girly characteristics, and thinks "like a guy" and acts like one too. There's nothing worse than a main character who behaves like a woman (unless of course that's what you're aiming for.) I have no tips for you unfortunately....

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    1. I don't envy you Sherre. Writing from a male perspective isn't something I am brave enough to even contemplate at the moment. Lucky you have good male friends to take notes from! I don't mind the cookie cutter guy as long as he's my cookie cutter guy type! LOL

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