Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hotties and notties

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Ashton Kutcher by David Shankbone 2010 NYC
Ashton=ALWAYS hot
Ah, high school memories! Around 9th grade, my friends "discovered" boys. I was kind of ambivalent about the whole thing. I spent a lot of time drooling over Brad Pitt and had a few guy "friends" I walked to class with---yes, that meant something then. I wasn't at the stage where I wanted to show everyone pictures of my object of desire du jour and it took me a while to get there because it was so awkward when my friends showed me pics of theirs.

The reason? I hated the awkwardness that came with picture sharing. Every day, I'd hear something like, "Robbie is so hot!" or "Tim is so fine!" or "Josh has the cutest butt!" All the praise aroused my curiosity, but once I saw pictures or (even worse) met the guy, I was usually kind of disappointed. I'd think, Meh. He's okay, I guess.

Justin Long
Justin Long=usually hot
What does this have to do with books and writing? A love interest in fiction is almost inevitable. With middle grade and picture books, you probably don't have to worry about stupid love interests, but from tween through adult, you're stuck with 'em. Some of these people who are supposed to be really attractive leave me wanting to rinse my mouth every time the protagonist gets all smoochy with them.

As a writer, I like to believe that when love interests are handled well, the reader identifies so closely with the main character, she can understand the attraction, but the reader (and cynic) in me wonders if it's just like those awkward moments from junior high. Maybe attraction is too subjective for the love interest to really have broad enough appeal to seem, you know, interesting to the readers.

This might seem silly, but in the book I'm currently reading, Breathless by Jessica Warman, it's kind of distracting. I've been enjoying the book and I hit this three page stretch that was amazing. It was so good, I wanted to grab someone off the street and read it to them. Then, the vapid boyfriend showed up. Ugh. I feel like screaming, "Katie! I don't care if he's built and has curly hair. He's an idiot!" Why don't they ever listen to me?