There’s a flip side to the rest of the story. My last post was about how we often think the worst of people, only to discover they aren’t so terrible. However, we can also think the best of someone, only to be proven wrong.
In high school I had a major crush on a boy. I can’t even remember his name now, but I thought he was a hottie. My best friend was a social butterfly and when we ended up talking to him and his friend, I (not so casually) signaled to Emily that she should introduce me. Some weeks later, a group of us ended up going to six flags one evening for fright fest. That was the night my crush died a rather abrupt death. Not the boy, he was perfectly healthy, but any admiration I had felt for him died that night.
It started when we met up with a couple of other girls. As we stood in line, waiting for a ride, one of them let us know that she had a little bit of marajuana in her purse. Mr. Crush thought this was the coolest thing ever. I thought it was illegal.
Later on we ended up on the ferris wheel. It was one of those that have the big cages that can seat up to 6 people. During a lot of the ride, Mr. Crush was standing up, making really crude comments, full of sexual innuendo, to the people in the cage next to us. I was incredibly uncomfortable, but I was literally stuck in a cage with this boy and our friends. Talk about feeling trapped.
Once we made it off the ferris wheel, we sat down on some benches. I was well and truly annoyed by this point, but I was putting up with it because I didn’t want to make a scene. Then I caught a flicker at the corner of my eye. I glanced over to see CrushBoy and a couple of his friends lighting cigars.
Keep in mind, we were only 15.
I finally cried foul and my best friend and I, along with a couple other people, ended up leaving the main group and going off to do our own thing. It had been a crappy evening, but looking back, I’m grateful for it. My crush on that man child had to do with nothing but his looks. I found him physically attractive, but once I got to know him—even for one evening—that attraction was gone.
Have you ever read or wrote a character like that? In romance, the easiest way to identify the hero is by his looks. He’s the one the heroine admires, the one she sees from afar and just can’t get her mind off of him. However, it can be a wonderful surprise when we resist stereotypes and break out of the norm. I really enjoy reading about the girl swooning over the guy, only to find out later that he’s a dud. After all, that’s how life goes sometimes.
You can have a character (guy or girl) who is attractive, talented, and charismatic. But what’s the rest of the story? Have their looks gone to their head? Are they just a little too used to getting what they want because of their charisma? Have their parents and teachers excused their bad behavior because they’re just too talented to hold back?
How can we use that in our stories? There are a few options.
1) This perfect-at-first-glance character could be a red herring. A crush/love interest that derails the true love story, until we see their true colors.
2) Turn them into the villain. It can have a lot of impact if readers have almost fallen for the villain before they are revealed to be the source of all evil. Think Hans in Frozen.
3) They really are the hero/heroine, but before they can live up to their roll as hero/heroine, they have to transform. They seem perfect, are revealed to be very flawed, but then decide to rise to the occasion and become a better person.
The unexpected is your friend. The unexpected should be sought after and utilized to create another layer of depth. Layers are good, like a cake! Mmmmm…cake.