Oof, that’s a long title for a blog post… Sorry about that. Anyway, moving onto the point, I’ve been working on a project that’s gone a long way toward convincing me that pretty people make the worst characters.
To be fair, I have nothing against the way people look, whether tall, short, red-headed, pale-skinned, long in the tooth or what have you. My experiences with critiquing have taught me that most authors start off with attractive characters, and I did too. Anyone who has a copy of The Clique can open it up and see that. The characters were pretty, attractive, every single one.
But pretty people’s problems—especially the ‘perfect’ pretty people who find their way into most beginner’s novels—are boring. They tend to be petty, too disconnected from what real people go through. I think it’s rare to speak to a real person who considers themselves to be attractive, and if they do… Well, isn’t that the kind most of us avoid?
On the other hand, a person with flaws… Give me that any day of the week. I can work with flaws, I can hate flaws. I can write a character who hates their flaws. The main character I’m writing right now has a square jaw and a nose that looks permanently swollen, and so instead of the world falling at her feet—instead of every character in the book fawning over her—she has to create her own value. She has to find her place in a world that will give her nothing because she isn’t some Adonic descendant.
There are some similarities in conflict, as there would be between any two stories. But the major difference between characters in The Clique and more real characters is in how they deal with their conflicts. An imperfect person has self-doubt that they must overcome, they have demons that they try to hide, and I find that a whole lot more interesting.
Because most of us aren’t Aphrodite, most of us aren’t Narcissus or Adonis. And in the end, I think books can help us come to terms with that. The stories that live on, the truly good stories, aren’t about how good a person looks. Anyone can fantasize about looking ‘perfect,’ whatever they envision that to be. The good stories are about people fighting for a better future, and the closer to real that those people and their problems seem, the better.
If you like this, please share, like, or leave a comment. I always love hearing from you guys, and I’m interested to see where everyone falls on this issue. Thanks for reading!