Thursday, November 10, 2011


(Found here)
So. Hotness. I have never read a YA book without romance (even of the tiniest bit!), and so it goes without saying that of course there is a catch to this romantic popularity, right? That we can just put in a bunch of hot guys and expect the readers to fall head over heels for them, right?

Um, no, actually.

Greenwillow (an imprint of HarperCollins) editor Martha Mihalick did an excellent post on this back at WriteOnCon, and she talked about the factor of believability in romance in an eloquent way I will never be able to, but I'm going to tackle the subject today... from a teen's perspective.

The truth is this: Just because a guy is hot doesn't mean I'll love him. Just because he looks like a mix of Logan Lerman and Josh Hutcherson doesn't mean I'm going to be absolutely delirious with him.

He needs to have depth. Personality. Character.

And I feel like that's what is really lacking in the excuse of "well, he's totally hot". Yeah, it's great that a guy is good-looking, but if he's a complete jerk and totally narcissistic, I'll hate him to the end of the Earth. If he uses all of his hotness for fame and uses others as his own gimmicky stairs to success, I'll despise him and snap the book shut.

But if you give me an average-looking guy and spice him up with doses of personality, I will fall in love.

Take Miles "Pudge" Halter from Looking for Alaska (by John Green) for example: He's an average-looking guy. Oh, wait, he must be worse, because at his giveaway party only two people came, and they sat around doing pretty much nothing. He didn't have many friends. So, he must be such a sore loser, right?

No. No no no no no.

He memorizes the last words of famous people. He reads biographies. He loves to think. He can feel. He tries so hard to make everything right and he's afraid of everything falling apart and he's just this real teen trying to hold the pieces of his life together without collapsing onto the ground.

I loved him.

Take Tucker from Unearthly (by Cynthia Hand): He's a good-looking guy, yeah, but not that good-looking--no, the really, REALLY hot guy is Christian. But I fell head over heels in love with Tucker and not Christian because he has just this amazing personality, and he's so sweet and caring and he honestly invests time in other people and is generous, helpful, altruistic. He believes in giving. He's willing to do what's right for others, and often give up his most sought-after desires for the greater good.

It is these intelligent, tangible, understanding characters that really make me fall in love. When I see a hot guy, I think, Ooh, he's kinda cute. But if he insults everyone else and always talks about himself and how great he is and yaddy-yaddy-yada, all that hotness is a layer of useless disguise.

On the contrary, if I see an average-looking guy with this brilliant personality, this contagious enthusiasm, this tantalizing optimism, I will really, really like him. This is how I feel. I am a teen. This is how real teens feel.*

In a nutshell, don't just make your characters hot. Make them believable. Make them come alive, burst off the pages. Make them speak to me, make them make me fall in love.

And most of all, don't be afraid to sacrifice looks for a personality that is as brilliant as the stars.


 *This is solely my own opinion, but I know there are many other teens out there who feels the same way. And it DOES help if a guy is hot--in a movie. In a book, we often conjure up images of how we think the guy looks, and personally, if he's a big jerk, I would imagine him with a giant red bruise or something. Just for the fun of it. :)


  1. "Don't be afraid to sacrifice looks for a personality that is as brilliant as the stars."
    Very well put, Julianna.


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