Sittin’ Pretty

Syawn here.

We've decided a picture of me should be posted at the top of the post whenever I'm the one writing it, apparently to make sure everyone understands who's talking. Fair enough, as some newcomers might  otherwise assume that the so-called Inkcaster was capable of writing her own bloody blog posts.

We’ve decided a picture of me should be posted at the top of the post whenever I’m the one writing it, apparently to make sure everyone understands who’s talking. Fair enough, as some newcomers might otherwise assume that the so-called Ink Caster was capable of writing her own bloody blog posts.

I observe an exceptional percentage of very attractive people in the world of fictional Main Characters. I claim to be no exception to this exceptional rule; that would be a lie. (Not that I never lie, but I’m hardly going to lie about this.) But the numbers are, quite frankly, unlikely–and it’s an unlikelihood that troubles some people.

It does trouble me when a writer expressly tells the reader that their character is attractive. Attractiveness, after all, is usually less of a fact than it is an opinion. Writer, tell us your MC’s features, that we may judge of them. Tell us that other characters find your MC attractive. We may or may not agree, but if you tell us directly that they’re super hot, all we will know is that you find them to be super hot.

Consider: Earlier, I implied my own attractiveness. What does that tell you? That I’m attractive? No–it tells you my opinion, it tells you that I’m fairly confident that many people will find me attractive. It is an opinion I have formed and based largely on my observation of others’ opinions.

When you read Ever the Actor, you might observe the same, through the eyes or actions of others. But you? You might not be into ginger curls and green eyes, for some mad reason. I might be bigger and bulkier and bolder than you find attractive. Snark or lawlessness might actually be off-putting to you. My face might be too round and ruddy for your taste (a bit of an insecurity, I confess, that still buries itself under my most-probably-alluring confidence.) Or you may just find it difficult to consider a male to be hot at all.

I have found such persons in my own world; I’m sure they exist in yours. While almost everyone is at least startled by my size, (and you can take that any way you like,) there are those I encounter that don’t seem the least affected by my looks, or even by my personality–for all that I try to mold the latter to the situation and individual.

So writers, please, tell us why you or anyone in your MC’s world might find them worth looking at. But unless there’s a supernatural force working on the other character’s perceptions to force them to find your MC attractive, there are going to be those that don’t. And even if supernatural superattractiveness is the case (and it’s a case that grows more strained and weary with every paranormal pretty-boy that goes by, so be very, very careful,) then whatever you do, by Lord Chance and his Daughters, don’t tell your readers how to feel about it!

But why does it continue? Why does this trope of good looks and sexual appeal live on, this habit that began with the writers of the epics of old, and remains even when most of that ancient idealization is falling away from our tale telling?

It might be wish-fulfillment, or to turn themselves on, or as a cheap-and-easy trick they hope will cheaply and easily make their character more likeable.

But beyond that, there may be a reason, an innocent and even sweet reason that writers keep telling us how damn hot, cute, sexy, beautiful, and handsome their Main Characters are.

To be continued.



  1. “GAH! Cliffhanger!” Will Scarlet laments. “Bring on Part 2! In the meantime, excellent points made. You can say a character is inarguably hot, or you can say what they look like, but when you insist on saying /both/, somebody somewhere’s gonna say you’re wrong. My author seems to think the way to dodge this trap is to not explicitly state in my books what a complete and total babe I am, which would irritate me more if I weren’t fairly certain everyone will know I’m gorgeous anyway — even if I’m not the big, green-eyed thief lord author mine’s been drooling over since 2010. X) “

    1. “All in good time, my friend. And thank you,” Sy says with a sweeping bow.

      “And yes,” he adds wryly, “I’d say your author handles the matter of your complete and total babehood quite deftly. My shirt is off to you, Miss Shipley. It would be my hat,” he explains, “but I don’t really wear hats anyhow. And I know you’ll appreciate it, as you’ve been drooling over me since–thank you for the reminder, Will–2010”

      His author, for the record, quietly facepalms in the background.

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