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Author Topic: Describing an attractive character without sounding cheesy  (Read 5807 times)

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MissRis

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How do you say someone is really attractive without sounding cheesy. My MC (call her Sofia) is trying to describe a devastatingly handsome character (we'll call him Stavros) that she's meeting for the first time. Sofia is seventeen, but overly mature. She isn't boy crazy. And would never say, "Oh. My. God. He is SO hot" and fawn all over the guy. She's fairly aloof about these things and would be more likely to say something sardonic like, "Do you expect me to swoon because you smiled at me?" and roll her eyes.

Stavros is one of those men that exudes sexuality, intentionally or not, and sends her into overdrive. (Keep in mind it's for a YA audience so let's keep it PG-13). He has an older man allure (he's in his early to mid twenties). I don't know if this affects it, but he is also a character with a fair amount of power. Although Jose is young, he sits on a Council of elders (we'll find out his father was killed in battle and Stavros was the heir for his position).

Brief description of Stavros:
Tall: At least 6'4", maybe taller
Trim build, not overly muscular.
Jet black hair
Bright blue eyes
Strong jaw
Romanesque nose
I think of Ian Somerholder when I write him...

Okay ladies (and gentlemen) I need perspective. I find everything I write sounds like a horrible romance novel.
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superpsycho

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I take it you got a lot of description altogether being laid out at once, rather then broken up a little at a time.  Do you have an example.

The best way to handle it is let her or others focus on one aspect at a time briefly over a period of time.

 
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Sargesatt

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My MC (call her Sofia) is trying to describe a devastatingly handsome character (we'll call him Stavros) that she's meeting for the first time. Sofia is seventeen, but overly mature. She isn't boy crazy. And would never say, "Oh. My. God. He is SO hot" and fawn all over the guy. She's fairly aloof about these things and would be more likely to say something sardonic like, "Do you expect me to swoon because you smiled at me?" and roll her eyes.

Stavros is one of those men that exudes sexuality, intentionally or not, and sends her into overdrive. (Keep in mind it's for a YA audience so let's keep it PG-13). He has an older man allure (he's in his early to mid twenties). I don't know if this affects it, but he is also a character with a fair amount of power. Although Jose is young, he sits on a Council of elders (we'll find out his father was killed in battle and Stavros was the heir for his position).

Brief description of Stavros:
Tall: At least 6'4", maybe taller
Trim build, not overly muscular.
Jet black hair
Bright blue eyes
Strong jaw
Romanesque nose
I think of Ian Somerholder when I write him...

Okay ladies (and gentlemen) I need perspective. I find everything I write sounds like a horrible romance novel.

Horrible romance novels sell.  ;)
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MissRis

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Yeah, but it's not a romance novel... Right now as it stands - "devastatingly handsome."
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superpsycho

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'devastatingly handsome' isn't much by itself. It's something a women my say to another but I doubt that's what a woman would think first or a narrator would say.

As a woman wouldn't you focus on something. eyes, chest arms, butt. You make a series of specific observations then think in summary he was handsome. It could be the first thought would be 'wow' without focusing and anything particular.  Be the character and imagine you're seeing them with the character's attitude. Make the observations not all at once, but as part of a scene or conversation, a little at a time.
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MissRis

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Good idea...hmmm...I'm just kind of in a writing rut right now.
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Sargesatt

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Good idea...hmmm...I'm just kind of in a writing rut right now.

Imagine yourself looking at him, and say out loud how you would describe him. 
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Leia

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I have a similar character in one of my current projects. I made a conscious effort to avoid the gushing litany of description, lest he begin to sound too much like Edward Cullen (for lack of a better comparison).

Whenever I'm reading a novel I prefer little bits stretched out over the character's interaction. I know I don't look at a guy and start listing off every feature. I'm more apt to focus, like superpsycho said, on one feature, and even more emphasis on how said feature makes me feel. Some guys have kiss-me lips, or eyes that give you butterflies in your stomach, ooh or a cute little 'bite me' tush. (God, now it's become clear to me why I have three children...LOL)

In conclusion, lead the reader Hansel & Gretel style with little nuggets of description...that's my two cents.
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MissRis

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I guess my main problem is I need a way to briefly and instantly describe her sudden lust for him. I want it to be his eyes - he has a bizarre blue colour - he has a penetrating stare that suggests an intimacy that they don't yet have. So she's semi-unfomfortable by it, but simultaneously turned on.
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MissRis

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ooh or a cute little 'bite me' tush. (God, now it's become clear to me why I have three children...LOL)

This is so cute! LOL
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superpsycho

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I guess my main problem is I need a way to briefly and instantly describe her sudden lust for him. I want it to be his eyes - he has a bizarre blue colour - he has a penetrating stare that suggests an intimacy that they don't yet have. So she's semi-unfomfortable by it, but simultaneously turned on.
usually she'd have to keep control of herself or she'd end up falling into the pools of his deep blue eyes. Then when he smiles, she just wants to wrap herself in it. And when he leaves the room she has to set down to regain her composure.
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Sargesatt

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I have a similar character in one of my current projects. I made a conscious effort to avoid the gushing litany of description, lest he begin to sound too much like Edward Cullen (for lack of a better comparison).

Whenever I'm reading a novel I prefer little bits stretched out over the character's interaction. I know I don't look at a guy and start listing off every feature. I'm more apt to focus, like superpsycho said, on one feature, and even more emphasis on how said feature makes me feel. Some guys have kiss-me lips, or eyes that give you butterflies in your stomach, ooh or a cute little 'bite me' tush. (God, now it's become clear to me why I have three children...LOL)

In conclusion, lead the reader Hansel & Gretel style with little nuggets of description...that's my two cents.

I guess I'm your kind of guy, then.

I am intriguing and handsome if you look at me in small bits.  Take a wider view, and you may need some Xanax to cope.   :rolmao
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Leia

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I guess I'm your kind of guy, then.

I am intriguing and handsome if you look at me in small bits.  Take a wider view, and you may need some Xanax to cope.   :rolmao

I literally have too many jokes... >:D
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jazzabel

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I have a really handsome guy character too. I think the best way is to not say "devastatingly handsome", but instead, show how others react to him (including your protagonist).
Focusing on one feature is a good idea. Also, describing things in terms of desire, such as thinking how his day old beard would feel against her skin, things like that.
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Former Member

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I have the same problem.  The issue for me (as Leia knows) is a plot point integral to the ending.  He has to look like the marble statue of "David."

I've done the description in little bits.  He's 'tall' because things he stands next to are smaller somehow.  He can throw heavier things.  Both he and another character have beautiful hands.

I hope it all comes together...
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