Building Better Boys

Yesterday I had to take a short writing break.  I definitely needed it as I literally fell asleep on my laptop somewhere around 3:00 a.m. and was awake by 9:00 a.m. to get a jump on my word count.

I think I’m still adjusting since my sleep pattern was thrown off by the Twilight movie marathon I attended prior to the midnight showing of Breaking Dawn Pt. 1. For the entire day afterward, I was in a befuddled, foggy state as my brain persistently argued in favor of adding otherworldly hot boys who morph into fanged, sparkly gerbils to my work in progress.

Witnessing several hours of female reactions to the Boys of Twilight made me think about writing male characters. I really enjoy reading paranormal, fantasy and sci-fi young adult fiction, even though as a writer I find myself pretty squarely (for now) in the contemporary camp.  But every story, even if it includes fairies, dragons and epic battles to save the universe, needs realistic elements that allow readers to connect with the characters.

Take Stephenie Meyer’s Edward Cullen for example.  Whether he’s the man of your dreams or a poor boyfriend choice (although I rate being a bloodsucking hellbeast much higher on the character flaw scale than possessiveness), there’s something about him that evokes intense reactions that I envy since one of my goals is to create stories and characters that people respond to.  They could say”This is the best thing EVAR!” or “Burn this crap immediately!” but I would be completely gutted if someone read my work and went, “Meh.” That kind of apathy is the kiss of death.  Say what you want about Meyer’s skills, she definitely tapped into something visceral (even inspiring university courses) and I can’t hate on her for that.

But for me, when it comes to writing boy characters I choose to make them realistic, believable, well-rounded, flawed, compelling fully-developed human beings.   People will have you believe that boys like that are as elusive as Chupacabra, but they are woven through my life as friends, love interests and family. I promise, they do exist.

Having two brothers and guys as close friends provides helpful  insight into the male brain but I  know there is no such thing as a “typical” or “ideal” boy.  Of course I add details or attributes that I find/found appealing, but I would be remiss in crafting a conduit for my unrealized adolescent fantasies.   It’s not fair to put forth some mythical creature  they can never live up to and I hope that with each noveling effort, I become just a bit better at not doing so.

Good Luck, Fellas
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5 thoughts on “Building Better Boys”

  1. Weirdly as a woman writer, I’ve always found female characters harder. Like you, I have brothers and I think this made me a lot more comfortable writing my first book from the perspective of a male protagonist. I guess there was probably also an element of using his sex as a mask, so that no one would assume I was writing about myself.

    Now working on book number two, which has three main female characters. It’s a challenge! Good luck with yours.

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