|Photo credit: catherinetodd2 on Flickr|
In a world, where a beautiful woman falls in love with a Greek-God-of-a-man, the future for their offspring looks freaking gorgeous.
You’d think the whole world was made up of Bradgelinas in these books.
I’ll admit I’m guilty of having physically attractive protagonists and love interests—which isn’t a bad thing (to a point). Readers like to imagine gorgeous protagonists just as much as writers like to write them—it just becomes noticeable when either a) everyone in your book is gorgeous or b) everyone good in your book is gorgeous and all of the bad guys (or less important people) are meh.
Let me clarify—I’m not saying you’re doing something wrong if your book falls into either one of those categories (I’ll readily admit more than a few of my WIPs certainly do), it’s just something I’ve started to think about lately and I’m going to address it in my future WIPs.
Because it turns out, just like in real life, what makes a character beautiful isn’t always a symmetrical face or toned body—it’s their personalities, their actions that make the readers fall in love with them.
What I find especially interesting is that books with characters that aren’t described as gorgeous often end up with readers who fall in love with them anyway and think the characters are hot. (Beth Revis talked about this in a very interesting blog post you should all check out).
Why does that happen?
Books allow us to do something that movies don’t—while movies show us what everyone looks like and paint a picture that we can’t ignore, books allow us to create our own images. Maybe the future love interest isn’t gorgeous…but as he does things that show his inner beauty, readers start to amend their mental image of him (or her, for that matter). A character that started off as ok physically, may end up looking straight-out beautiful by the end of the book in a reader’s mind.
Inner beauty trumps a less-than-perfect physical description.
I’m not saying you should stop writing beautiful characters—I just think we need to consider more about what makes a character beautiful. What does that word “beauty” mean anyway? I don’t think it always has to apply to something physical, in fact, I think it’s even more powerful when it doesn’t.
We live in a world where physical beauty is coveted—but to create a world in our books where there are no imperfections is unrealistic and shallow. Most of us agree, I think, that inner beauty is the more important of the two, so why not show our readers that it’s possible to fall in love with someone who isn’t physically perfect?
That kind of love story may be the greatest of them all.
So that’s my opinion, but what do you think? Am I underplaying the importance of physical beauty, or does inner beauty really trump all?