Monday, August 22, 2011

A little thing called LOVE

Person 1: "So, I have this character, who likes another character. They're like meant for each other."
Person 2: "That's cool, but why are they meant for each other?"
Person 1: *pause* "They just are. You know, forbidden love and stuff."
Person 2: "Okay ... Well, what's so special about them?"
Person 1: "I don't know ... They're both hot?"
Person 2: Sounds great ... *yawn*

We've all read these kinds of books. The only reason the main character falls for someone is because he/she is "hot". Smoldering eyes, dark and brooding demeanor. You know the type. So, why do girls in books fall head over heals in love with someone like that? Like after the second they lay eyes on the person.

So doesn't happen in real life.

When two people start to like each other, there has to be a mutual attraction. And a reason. A conversation usually takes place, or the girl watches the guy from the sidelines as he does something nice for someone. Or in some situations he saves her life. I love reading about a couple who get to know each other first before jumping into a relationship "just because". Give me a reason they're together. A reason they need each other and compliment each other.

Now, here is a pet peeve of mine. Lately, I guess. There are a LOT of bad boys in books. What happened to all the nice guys? I don't know about you, but I never went for the huge jerk that disrespected girls when I was a teenager. Sure a few of them were cute, but personality wise? If they weren't nice it was a HUGE turn off to me.

Why do authors tend to write in the bad boy then? The one who is so rude to the main character that she absolutely hates him, but ends up falling for him anyway? Now I'll admit, I'm a sucker for the bad boy if he's done right. Like a good juicy past, or something like that which caused him to be standoffish and quiet. There has to be a reason he is the way he is and why he treats people the way he does. You can't just slap a "bad boy" label on him and make him arrogant just because you feel like it. It has to "work". It has to go with the story and make sense.

That's why I love digging deeper into my own characters. Seeing what makes them tick. I love fleshing them out more and making my readers believe they love each other for more than just their good looks or rockin' bodies. It's more true to life. You know?

So, what kind of guy do you like reading about? Bad boys? Good guys? What about the leading lady? She has a lot to do with this subject too. FYI, I'm not a huge fan of the whiny girls who can't seem to take care of themselves without a man. You know the ones I mean. Oh, and don't even get me started on the girls that switches which guy she is in love with every two seconds. Love triangles are okay, when done right, but just throw in there just because? Not a fan.



Ruth Josse said...

I concur! I don't like things that are just because. I need reasons!

Me? I like the boys that might seem bad from afar but are really sweet and nice when you get to know them.

Jen said...

Perfectly said! And let me just add to that: I can't stand the oblivious teenage girl with the two hot guys who are fighting over her. Really? In highschool if a boy so much as looked sideways at a girl, her friends were planning the wedding.

Stephanie McGee said...

Totally agree. Which is why I think I adored Starcrossed by Josie Angelini and Hereafter by Tara Hudson so much. The male heroes in those, the ones the female MCs fall for (and who fall head over heels for them) are absolutely good guys. Read. Love.

Jessie Humphries said...

I love how you never mentioned any examples of how this is done badly. I think we can all pinpoint some of those books in our minds.

But yes, bad boys need to have a reason for being bad. And it has to be good for me to still like him.

Anonymous said...

Great post! You're right, there has to be more to them. Otherwise they're static characters. No fun in that.

Ru said...

I think the bad boy in YA literature phenomenon is aimed at one thing -- the desire of many girl to "change" or "reform" a guy in their own lives. Rationally, we all (especially us grown up girls) know that will never happen -- people are who they are and you can't change them, but it's fun to think about. Young Adult novels where the "bad boy" is revealed to change, or have secret motives, or a VERY GOOD REASON for being such a jerk plays into that sort of escapist fantasy.

This is one reason why the beginning of Twilight works so well - You mean that hot boy who is super mean to me all the time actually LOVES ME and is doing it for my OWN PROTECTION??? (Seriously, what teenage girl doesn't swoon over that idea - even if deep down, she really knows it's baloney.)

But I agree - the trouble is when people try to use this formula without making either character genuinely interesting as well, because then the B.S. sirens start sounding too loudly to ignore.

Cynthia Lee said...

I have thought long and hard over the years about this whole bad boy thing. I think bad boy love is just embedded in the female psyche, not for all women, thankfully, but for a lot of them. It's unfortunate but there you have it.

You are so right about contrived love stories. They are boring and silly and they make me put the book down immediately. So do endless descriptions of how hot a guy is. Hot guys are only hot if they have compelling personalities.

Angie Cothran said...

I'm not a huge fan of the bad boy either--unless he is going to have a gigantic character arch.

I agree with Cynthia and this will sound all psychology-ish, but I think bad boys are so popular because sadly girls don't realize their own worth and feel like getting treated like crap is all they deserve.

Maggie said...

I'm more annoyed with girl MCs right now. It seems like they're all very standoff-ish and grouchy/snarky but ALL the guys want them anyway. Weird.

My favorites are the underdogs (and if you've read my book, you know why). I like the guy who isn't the hottie but is the best choice in the world.

Just sayin.

E.R. King said...

Characters who begin as friends and then romance buds are my favs. Who didn't love to see Ron and Hermione get together, or Harry and Ginny? It was so very gradual, but real. This is how I met my husband. No fireworks, just a melding of minds and then a realization that no one else will complement me as much as he does.

Jolene Perry said...

Let me tell you something really annoying - I wrote one of the "good guys" and two publishers have said that they loved the writing, loved the characters, loved the descrip, but it was missing just a little tension.
Both suggested I tweak his character, and I just can't bring myself to do it.

But I do agree in that there are WAY too many books with "instant" love that just has NO foundation.

Shallee said...

YES. To all of the above. I'm actually writing a nice guy right now because I'm like, since when are nice guys not attractive? In fact, the character reminds me a lot of my husband...

It's true, too, that the characters need to have a reason they like each other. Sure, looks can be a first attraction, but in order to really fall in love there has to be some kind of connection. I like it when my characters fulfill a need in each other.

Thanks for sharing!

Abby said...

I have a theory on the "bad boy" thing that I call the "Beauty and the Beast Theory." And it is... that all girls, want to take that HOT bad boy and make him good. "Oh, he changed for me!" they think and it makes them feel special. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I like a boy with a past, but I definitely don't want the girl to end up with a jerk. Good must triumph over evil! ;)

Mel Fowler said...

Character development is the hardest thing for me. I too hate love triangles. Seriously.

And you are right, love may start with looking cute, but that's not what keeps them in love.

Thanks for you post

Kerri Cuev said...

Whiny girls annoy me! I can't help always rooting for the bad boy, but as you said it has to work. Great post!

Samantha said...

Perfectly said! There are very few things as annoying as "I fell in love with him the moment I saw him. I don't know if it was his smoldering eyes or his body that resembled a Greek god. Either way, I was smitten..." and so on and so forth. Thanks for the post!

Writing Through College

ali cross said...

I love bad boys who are bad for a reason. And I love it when the girl falls for him because she can see the good in him and help him win his struggle against the bad. But I never read these characters, lol. But I would love it if I did!

I agree, too Chantele. Give me heart. Give me REASON. Hear hear!

Carol Riggs said...

Ditto and I agree to ALL these points! I too have noticed the (yawn, tiresome) trend toward the hot bad boy. Doesn't even make logical sense. What's so attractive about these guys? There's gotta be more than hormones. All my male love interests have a good heart--even if they do have some annoying tendencies that cause conflict with my main character!

Anonymous said...

I like female characters who are intelligent and yearning for more in their lives but don't know how to get there. I can find humor in this kind of woman bumbling with something, but overall bumbling females characters drive me crazy.

Jenny S. Morris said...

I completely agree. I want to write a guy like what I hope my boys will grow up to be. I really don't like whiny girls, but love strong female leads who don't bulldoze over the guy.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

@Ruth Josse I LOVE those kinds of boys. *sigh*
@Jen I know! Seriously? Who really has 2 hot guys fighting over them? That would totally rock, but it never happens! ;)
@Stephanie McGee I'm so excited to read Starcrossed! It looks SO good!
@Jessie Humphries I never like pinpointing specific authors or books. I don't want to hurt anyone. You know? :)
@nicolekrell Thank you! I agree. Static characters are so boring!
@Ru I still love Twilight. :) I do love bad boys who do have a secret. Or a good reason to be, well, bad. I love how you put B.S. sirens sounding too loudly! Hilarious! :D
@Cynthia Lee I totally agree about the bad boy love. :( And I hate it when a girl keeps saying how hot her love interest is! SO ANNOYING!
@Angie Cothran I know. A lot of girls think they aren't good enough for the good guy. In books and in real life.
@Maggie I know. That's how high school was, though. The guy always liked the annoying, ornery girl. The nice girls always finished last. *sigh* And I don't think I've ever quoted Green Day before. :)
@E.R. King I love the friends who gradually see each other in a romantic way. LOVE it.
@Jolene Perry I would be super annoyed. The guy doesn't always have to be a jerk or grouchy. You know?
@Shallee I love the nice guys. My hubby totally fits that as well. And there has to be a reason they like each other. And not because they have rock hard abs and a dimple in their chin. ;)
@Abby I definitely agree about your theory. Who wouldn't want to change a bad boy? I do like most books with bad boys, but some just make me mad!
@Mel Fowler Character development is tough. I tend to go back through after my first draft and cringe at how lame my characters are. ;)
@Kerri Cuev Like I said, I LOVE the bad boys. Usually. If they are done right. :) And I absolutely hate whiny girls!
@Samantha Ha ha ha! Love this. Thanks for stopping by!
@ali cross Me too. I do love the bad boys who really do have good in them. Those are the best kind of love stories I think. :)
@Carol Riggs They have to have a good heart. I agree. Get rid of those bad boys and get some good guys out there! :D
@Rebecca Kiel Ha ha. I totally agree. Bumbling female characters are so obnoxious. :)

linda said...

Haha I just wrote a huge post about romance in YA on my blog (here, if you're interested in checking it out). So yes, I agree with many of your points. Great characterization is so important!

Chantele Sedgwick said...

@Jenny S. Morris Me too. My boy better be a good one when he grows up! :)
@linda Cool! I'm going to check it out! :D

Phil said...

I think girls are into the "bad boy" because he's there to shake up their seemingly staid, mundane lives, rescue her from her rigid, boring social circle. Deep down, everyone wants their status quo to get shaken up.

I totally agree with you - I hate when two people fall for each other for no reason. The story just dictates it. Your characters are not plot devices!

Jeigh said...

AMEN! I love a nice, funny guy all the way.

Stephanie McGee said...

Loved Starcrossed. I got it and Hereafter as ARCs in a twitter giveaway from the publisher but I'd go drop the money on it in a heartbeat if I had it to spare.

Miss Cole said...

Hello fellow campaigner! I love your blog header - it's so true!

I rebelled against the bad boy trope by having a lovely young man in my story!

Kaylee Baldwin said...

I love the nice guy. The bad boy alpha male thing can get a little smotherish (Some of these guys are like bordeline abusive. I'd be like: give me some space!). I also get bugged with the "I'm hot, you're hot, we're obviously soul mate who will fall madly in love in seconds" I've read a few books lately where I set it down completely disatisfied, thinking: Well that's never going to last.