I’m not talking about one you can fantastize snogging the face off. I’m talking about a character that we as readers are drawn to.
I can’t deny that definition will sometimes apply to a male character that another character finds romantically appealing.
I love well-written characters. The plot can be interesting enough but if the characters bore me, I don't really want to stick around. There is nothing worse than a character that is too dull to bare.
When it comes to male love interests in novels, I am finding more and more that they lean towards tedious and not tantalizing.
What makes a fictional love interest desirable to a reader and what makes him repulsive?
Five Things I Want in a Literary Man
- Personality. He has to have quirks and interests and hobbies and opinions. If he's just sexy, brooding and mysterious, I won't be interested for long. There are too many cookie-cutter guys in novels these days. Character first, love interest second - please and thank you.
- Conflict. I don't want him to mesh perfectly with his female/male prospective lover. If he is presented as imperfect, I want him to be imperfect. Promise me something and then deliver on that promise. Conflict makes the fictional world go 'round.
- Motive. He has a reason for being how he is and doing what he does. He does not need to appear 100% against something on the outside, while on the inside secretly be all for it. There is no good v.s. evil. He can do something that clashes with his love interest (probably the protagonist, although perhaps not) without being a pseudo-villain.
- Mystery. He doesn't have to be cliché-mysterious but I do want to be interested in him enough to want to find out things about him. He has to be intriguing enough that I'm anticipating learning more about him.
- Somewhat scarce. You heard me, I don't want him around all the time. How am I meant to anticipate his next arrival in the story and be eager for his appearance if he is on every page of the story? He doesn't have to be AWOL for chapters at a time but I need enough distance that I'm awaiting his return, not drowning in his presence.
- Over-protective. I really hope that this guy/girl he is meant to be the love interest of in the story is not completely helpless and pathetic. Either way, I do not want to read about a male love interest who needs to save their prospective lover at every turn.
- Pig turned pure. If this dude has shagged everything to cross his path and is now turning over a new leaf for his (probably virgin) prospective lover, I think I'm going to hurl. Hurl the book across the room that is. I do not think that a man who treats someone like a piece of meat and the (always pathetic female trying to parade as a strong woman) prospective lover taking that treatment, is good reading. It's a massive turn-off.
- Cheese-ball with a bad streak. "I love you so much, I would do anything for you, blah blah blah - oh and by the way, there is a little bit of bad boy in me too." Great way to cover all the bases. Just because the guy can have feelings, doesn't mean he needs to be the most sensitive and understanding man-boy in the world, with the additional capability of kicking villain butt.
- Too perfect. I like characters for their flaws. If he's all, "Oh look at me, I'm sexy and I have flaws but not really, I'm just said to have flaws but in reality, I'm perfect," I will lose it. I have had people encourage me to read books, warning me that once I read this book, no guy in real life will ever measure up to the love interest. I am glad to say that has never happened.
- Center of the universe. Whoever is interested in this guy should not think that he is the center of their universe. They do not need to think about him all the time and they do not need to make every action and thought of theirs relate to him. Also, writers who make the core plot of the story revolve around this mysterious, bad-boy, pseudo-flawed chap, need to come up with some new plot developments.
What qualities in a male love interest attract and repel you in the stories that you read?