I recently asked the girls in my writing group a question.
“In a story, what does a guy do to make your heart skip a beat?”
Personally, if a male character is hurt in some way, I instantly feel attached to him. If he gets hurt heroically, I’m even more attached. For me, having a male character in pain draws out all female sides of me – sister, mother, girlfriend, what-have-you. Pain takes away the outer glitter and lets you ‘see the gold deep down,’ as new-friend Micah says.(I’m not saying pain is the only thing that makes me like male characters; but it’s a pretty big one).
I got quite a discussion going! Here are some of the responses; I was surprised at how many of us agreed with one another on the heart-skipping qualities in male characters.
• When the male character protects the girl
• Self-sacrifice, in all its various forms
• When the guy cheers up the girl
• If he behaves like a gentleman
• Guys who tease a lot but not to hurt anyone
• When a girl embarrasses herself in front of a guy and he’s cool with it/if she can take her guard down when she’s around him
• When the guy tries to do the right thing
• When the guy is respectful to his parents
• Guys with fur and golden eyes (I had to agree with this, though I don’t see many guys like that walking down the street…)
• Guys with witty comebacks
• We were pretty torn between bad boys and good boys. Half of us liked bad boys, the other half liked clean-cut… it was a draw.
• Guys who are good with little kids
There was also something that we unanimously didn’t like.
• When the author keeps pointing out how handsome the guy is. This irritates us – if the author has to keep drilling it into our brains that he’s good-looking, we end up saying “Forget it, I don’t care.” When I write a male character, I describe him but try to leave the ‘good-looking’ thing up to the reader. This is usually helpful, since we all have our own ideas of what pretty/handsome are.
So there are some things I collected (this is by no means an extensive list!) so – what about you? Guys – don’t worry, there’s a post about female characters coming up soon, after my hiatus =)