What to Look For In Your Fictional Boyfriend

Or Girlfriend, If You Are So Inclined.

But I’m going to be talking about boys in this case, so if you’re not into guys, just substitute the word “girl” in there, ok?

Ok.

Here’s the deal.  Fictional boys are always perfect.  Always.  The heroine ends up with the perfect guy.  Every time.  There’s a reason girls will pick Teams and fight viciously over which one is better.  It’s because most of them wish their chosen dude was real.

Truth.

(It’s kind of depressing, when you think about it, considering none of them will ever really exist.  Sigh.)

However, I learned recently that there is such thing as too perfect.  As in, this guy is handsome, he’s athletic, he’s smart, and he’s student body president.  The kind of guy that does everything right, all the time.  This example is Ian, a character in Carrie Jones’ book, Need.

Behold, thine visual!

Since the first time Ian showed up, I was wary of him.  The protagonist was a new girl, and kind of emotionally dead (but I won’t get into that).  Ian didn’t care.  He was just there, showing up, all the time, always with a gigantic smile and just the right thing to say.

It wasn’t sweet.  It was creepy.  Ian was a creep.  A friend who had loaned me the book asked who I thought was a pixie (because, oh yeah, this book involves pixies).  I automatically answered with Ian.  He was too perfect.  No human could act like that, all the time.

I suppose it’s confusing that a guy’s perfection can be exactly the reason I don’t like him.  After all, aren’t all women searching for “the perfect guy?”  This book helped me learn that technical perfection is not the same as what a protagonist actually needs.  Writing a good boyfriend-type figure is much harder than it seems.

The protagonist needs someone who is kind, and understands her, and sure, let’s put good looks into the equation, because what fictional boyfriend doesn’t have those?  But the guy should also have enough flaws that he seems real.  Ian didn’t seem real to me.  Every person has flaws, but he didn’t appear to have any.  No matter how good the guy, they have to be believable, and that means putting some kind of vulnerability or vice in there.  This is something I think all writers have to remember when creating romance within their works.

I guess what I’m trying to say is the perfect fictional boyfriend isn’t perfect.  He’s flawed.  He’s real.  He’s human.

And he’s mine.

Happy reading!

 

P.S. Oh, and the pixie bit?  Yeah, I’m not telling whether I was right or not.

P.P.S. Quick review: Need was an awesome book.  Even with Ian in it.  My only negative thought is that it was EXTREMELY Twilight-ish.  Not exactly, but close enough to make some pretty major comparisons.  I think I like Need better, though, because the protagonist ends up with the guy she SHOULD end up with.  Tomorrow, though, I’m most likely going to talk about Divergent, which is AMAZING.  So stay tuned!

P.P.P.S. This is my 50th post!  WOO!  Party!

This is basically our Golden Anniversary. But with posts.

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2 thoughts on “What to Look For In Your Fictional Boyfriend

  1. I’d also say that a large part of it is that fictional characters live in a kind of contextual void. The world the author created and the attitudes of the characters around the hero (or heroine) are built rather than born naturally. So it’s often very difficult to take, say, Edward Cullen and pull him out of context, and say, “Okay, what if this guy turned up in my second block English classroom?”

    It’d probably turn out that having a much older guy with more baggage than a cross-dressing opera diva pursuing you isn’t as fun or romantic as one would want to think.

    The younger the reader, I think, the harder it is to say, “Stop. Wait. Let me actually think about this.”

    Because in the real world, there’s romance, and then there’s creepiness. And most of us, most of the time, can tell the difference if we put our minds to it.

    • I see what you mean. If the fictional guy is, say, a protective type, it wouldn’t necessarily work outside of a context where the girl is in danger all the time. As a writer, you can build your boys around the scenario they’re in, and I’ll concede that this might contribute to the attraction.
      Ah well. A girl can dream.

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