Monday, January 14, 2013

Beautiful People

The Eye of the Beholder

I recently received a comment from a reader who scolded me for always writing about beautiful heroines and handsome heroes. She said she couldn't relate to them because they were so gorgeous. She wished I would write about real, plain old people. I responded that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Since I get into my characters' viewpoints, I see what they see, and they happen to like what they see in the hero or heroine.

But it goes beyond that. I have studied human to human attraction and responses. People are predictable when it comes to the signals and reactions we have to each other when we are attracted or sexually stimulated. Men are more visually stimulated than women and are also more acutely aware of aromas. Women are also visually stimulated, but not as much as men. They listen more than men and respond more to what they hear and sense.

While some romance writers have gone against the grain and written books with central characters who have scars, eye patches, missing limbs, are in wheelchairs, etc. and those books are certainly interesting and worthy of publication, the fact remains that the majority of romance readers prefer to read about attractive people. More importantly, they want the main characters to be good, decent people.

I used to tell my writing students that most women really don't want to read about a hero who is balding, a bit over-weight, and burps in public because they are married to that guy. And while they might identify with an over-weight, middle-aged heroine, they don't particularly want to read about those women all the time. Romances must have an element of fantasy or they just don't live up to the genre.

Instead of creating physically flawed people I like to create emotionally flawed people. They are far more interesting and almost everyone can relate to them. No matter how they look.

Just remember that beauty is subjective. The man you think is gorgeous could turn off your best friend and your mother might think he is as homely as homemade soap. But if I'm writing in your point of view, he is going to be a hunka-hunka-burnin-love.