When I wrote about “Beautiful Creatures” last Wednesday, my follower, Wordschat, said “This looks so much like a Twilight wanna be but then again anything with ‘beautiful people’ will be.” (Wordschat’s blog reviews many aspects of his life: books, TV, movies, and novel–along with politics. Anything that effects his Canadian life, and I find his insightful writing to be a wonderful example of how we can take advantage of our technological world to communicate our opinions effectively.)
But–I wanted to discuss this “beautiful people” in novels, because, like many of you, I’m sure you’re sick of it. It’s repetitive, shallow, and, in the end, it’s impossible to relate to. Novels, it seems, go into this world where everyone (as long as they are a main character) is a walking super model (or a model in the making.)
What is with this and how can we, as writers AND readers, change this???
Readers: Demand a change. You have the power. Not the writer. Based on what you buy and react to, the industry WILL change. The industry HAS to adapt to what YOU want. But you have to demand it first.
Writers: Stop. It’s that simple. Instead of telling the reader how beautiful they are physically, explain the little things that make them beautiful to others. Use their personality.
Think of it this way: if you’ve ever had a lover yourself, what makes them beautiful to you? I hope your first thoughts don’t go straight to their physical aspects. It goes to their personality—who they are and how they continue to grow into the person you love. They aren’t set in stone—they are human—and they have flaws.
Personally, I find flaws are the most attractive part about a person. Not only do they describe a history, but they create a vulnerability that, when the narrator focuses on them, shows the endearing emotions of a character. This goes for all characters—not just lovers or protagonists.
I’ve created a list of attributes you can consider when thinking of how to create a “beautiful person” through personality rather than by physical forms:
Gestures: Actions speak louder than words. There is a reason this is such a popular phrase. Use it. Does a character go out of his/her way help, to show that they care? Consider creating a character who’s bad at explaining their emotions, so they, in turn, show it. Maybe they cannot make eye contact—so, in the rare moments they do, it means something.
Speech: Perhaps they are great with their words, but you cannot explain yourself in every situation, especially when a lot of people are around. Allow their conversations to change between different characters. Show how they change from one person to the next. This will show who they sympathize with and/or who they dislike. It will also create a relatable, emotional person, who may not even be aware how much they give away with their speech.
Physical: So they’re chiseled and their jaw line is impeccably defined. Great. I don’t care. Maybe I’m not attracted to that type of man, so why should I care? Keep your reader in mind. Use your narrator, and focus on the little things, THEY find beautiful. Consider using scars, birthmarks, injuries, or how they can never control their hair or expressions. Allow these physical aspects to create a beauty that is unique to the person, the narrator, and that will effect how the reader will respond.
I have one last disclosure: There, of course, are exceptions, but I want you to think about why they become exceptions. An example would be a novel about someone’s extreme beauty causes them disconnect. Their beauty puts them in situations where they cannot connect, because they feel as if people only like them because of their physical appearance. In this case, however, when you really get down to it, it’s their insecurities about connection that allow them to be beautiful. It shows a thought process. It shows an emotional response to the world. Use beauty in a way that readers will sympathize with how they are effected–not how they look.