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PamelaC
07-17-2019, 05:39 PM
Okay, here's a question that's plaguing me lately. I'm developing my MMC for the romance I want to write, and he has a serious issue with being objectified due to his good looks and sex appeal (which he has in spades). He has a very good reason for this which I won't get into now. Let's just say he's had a rough past.

The thing is, it feels almost wrong to write about him from the FMC's perspective, because obviously she's going to be physically attracted to him.

This sets up plenty of conflict, I guess, but it feels almost...hypocritical of me as a writer? Like "Hey, my hero is really uncomfortable being objectified as a sex symbol! How HOT is that? Let's spend a couple hundred pages using him to fuel our sexual fantasies!"

Is this okay to do? Am I freaking out over nothing?

Earthling
07-17-2019, 05:52 PM
I think you have to be true to your FMC's perspective. Presumably she doesn't know that he hates being ogled, at least at the beginning, so if she's physically attracted to him of course she's going to admire his looks and think about him in a romantic way. He might react badly to that, and that makes an interesting conflict for you to explore.

I do think you can have the heroine be attracted to his looks, and have him be a kind of fantasy for your readers, without objectifying him. The relationship won't grow on physical attraction but on personality.

Personally, as a reader I don't pay much attention to physical description. Your idea of a man with "good looks and sex appeal" is probably different from mine and different from all the other people that will visit this thread. It's the hero's personality, and the chemistry between him and the heroine, that makes me fall in love with a romance novel. None of that requires objectification.

Marissa D
07-17-2019, 06:01 PM
Kind of free associating here...what if the FMC doesn't find him terribly attractive at first? Like she dislikes brunettes or blonds or whatever he is, or he reminds her of an ex who was a real dipsh*t, or something?

PamelaC
07-17-2019, 11:29 PM
I think you have to be true to your FMC's perspective. Presumably she doesn't know that he hates being ogled, at least at the beginning, so if she's physically attracted to him of course she's going to admire his looks and think about him in a romantic way. He might react badly to that, and that makes an interesting conflict for you to explore.

I do think you can have the heroine be attracted to his looks, and have him be a kind of fantasy for your readers, without objectifying him. The relationship won't grow on physical attraction but on personality.

Personally, as a reader I don't pay much attention to physical description. Your idea of a man with "good looks and sex appeal" is probably different from mine and different from all the other people that will visit this thread. It's the hero's personality, and the chemistry between him and the heroine, that makes me fall in love with a romance novel. None of that requires objectification.

Very good points! I guess this came about because I was rereading Sylvia Day's Bared to You, because I devoured the entire Crossfire series, and was wanting to glance back at it to see why I liked it so much. When Eva meets Gideon, literally the only thing she comments on is how physically attractive he is, so much so that she wants to tear his clothes off and have sex with him.

So, my poor little brain was like, "Eek! I can't do that to my MMC!"

But, you're absolutely right. In real life (at least for me), I might notice that a man is nice looking when I first see him, but I usually don't start wanting to tear his clothes off until after I find out that he's also an awesome human being wrapped up in a handsome package.

Thank you!

PamelaC
07-17-2019, 11:34 PM
Kind of free associating here...what if the FMC doesn't find him terribly attractive at first? Like she dislikes brunettes or blonds or whatever he is, or he reminds her of an ex who was a real dipsh*t, or something?

Yeah, I think it's going to be a case where she doesn't really even respond to his physical appearance all that much, other than the way anyone would when meeting him (because she's focused on another priority at the time), but she's going to find that for some reason she cannot stop thinking about him. And as she gets to know him, his appeal will grow. Because to me, that's a more realistic way of becoming attracted to someone. I've known men who weren't exactly head-turners who, as I got to know them, became incredibly sexy to me based on the fact that they were smart, funny, kind, etc.

Thanks!

ElaineA
07-18-2019, 01:53 AM
When Eva meets Gideon, literally the only thing she comments on is how physically attractive he is, so much so that she wants to tear his clothes off and have sex with him.

I just read a newly-published book with an FMC that was so over-the-top in describing the MMC's body when they first meet, it made me cringe just as much as reading a male writer doing the whole "breasted boobily" thing. But while pretty much every romance mentions physical features in some capacity, it rarely feels super objectifying. There are so many good ways to get across attraction. You're cognizant of there being a line in this case, and you're already empathetic toward your MMC. I'm sure that's enough to keep you from going overboard.

I really love the idea of the built-in conflict this character trait establishes, too. Enjoy the writing!

lonestarlibrarian
07-19-2019, 12:19 AM
There was a 1940's murder mystery where there were x number of sisters whose parents had died. The eldest was married, so she and her husband took in the younger ones, and she made it her ambition to get them all married off, with numerous tragic consequences.

The second-eldest sister didn't want to get married off to the first random guy who expressed interest. Eldest Sister eventually got frustrated by her non-cooperation, wrote her off as an old maid, and turned her attention to the sisters who were more cooperative.

In the meantime, the second-eldest was working at her job, and had a very handsome coworker. Alllllll the ladies were interested in him. And Second-Eldest knew he was out of her league. And he knew he was above her as well. Which was why it was safe for them to become friends--- they both knew there were numerous women around who were better "catches" than she was. And because they were safe as friends... their friendship was able to develop into love, and she ended up marrying him. (Which didn't end so HEA, but that's beside the point.)

Anyhow, I thought that was a very clever approach, and it might work in your situation. If you make your MMC far superior to your FMC in terms of the externals--- and both of them know it--- that might help (a) make her stand out, because he's already surrounded by people who would ordinarily be in his league, but they're triggering that peeve of his, and she manages to interact with him in a way that isn't off-putting; and (b) keep her from fantasizing about him too excessively in her own headspace, due to her insecurities. And at the same time, they're able to (c) get close enough to each other in order to appreciate the other as actual human beings, rather than as fantasy objects. And in addition, (d) you might be able to appeal to your readers by making your FMC atypical in various ways, but she still finds her HEA.

Hopefully WLCT
07-19-2019, 04:44 PM
Look at those romance novels where the girl falls in love with the disfigured man and not the handsome one that's chasing her.

PamelaC
07-20-2019, 06:11 PM
There was a 1940's murder mystery where there were x number of sisters whose parents had died. The eldest was married, so she and her husband took in the younger ones, and she made it her ambition to get them all married off, with numerous tragic consequences.

The second-eldest sister didn't want to get married off to the first random guy who expressed interest. Eldest Sister eventually got frustrated by her non-cooperation, wrote her off as an old maid, and turned her attention to the sisters who were more cooperative.

In the meantime, the second-eldest was working at her job, and had a very handsome coworker. Alllllll the ladies were interested in him. And Second-Eldest knew he was out of her league. And he knew he was above her as well. Which was why it was safe for them to become friends--- they both knew there were numerous women around who were better "catches" than she was. And because they were safe as friends... their friendship was able to develop into love, and she ended up marrying him. (Which didn't end so HEA, but that's beside the point.)

Anyhow, I thought that was a very clever approach, and it might work in your situation. If you make your MMC far superior to your FMC in terms of the externals--- and both of them know it--- that might help (a) make her stand out, because he's already surrounded by people who would ordinarily be in his league, but they're triggering that peeve of his, and she manages to interact with him in a way that isn't off-putting; and (b) keep her from fantasizing about him too excessively in her own headspace, due to her insecurities. And at the same time, they're able to (c) get close enough to each other in order to appreciate the other as actual human beings, rather than as fantasy objects. And in addition, (d) you might be able to appeal to your readers by making your FMC atypical in various ways, but she still finds her HEA.

Ooo, I do like this!

Ada.Troy
07-20-2019, 06:11 PM
Okay, here's a question that's plaguing me lately. I'm developing my MMC for the romance I want to write, and he has a serious issue with being objectified due to his good looks and sex appeal (which he has in spades). He has a very good reason for this which I won't get into now. Let's just say he's had a rough past.

The thing is, it feels almost wrong to write about him from the FMC's perspective, because obviously she's going to be physically attracted to him.

This sets up plenty of conflict, I guess, but it feels almost...hypocritical of me as a writer? Like "Hey, my hero is really uncomfortable being objectified as a sex symbol! How HOT is that? Let's spend a couple hundred pages using him to fuel our sexual fantasies!"

Is this okay to do? Am I freaking out over nothing?


When you are building tension, can you acknowledge the pretty (because I would think that would be realistic if he's so stinking hot) but write her so the FMC only ever experiences a sensual reaction to things other than his looks? (His voice, his accidental touch, his witty joke, etc.) I'm just free-thinking, here, but maybe think about how you would write her attraction to him if she were blind? (Not that I am saying she should be, I obviously don't know your story or your characters.)

PamelaC
07-20-2019, 06:22 PM
Look at those romance novels where the girl falls in love with the disfigured man and not the handsome one that's chasing her.

Those are among my favorites (Beauty and the Beast, Phantom of the Opera)!

My MMC's appealing physical appearance is at the crux of his issues though. His looks led to a terrible past event that has left him deeply damaged. So much so that now he has a really hard time tolerating any positive attention or compliments directed toward his appearance.

Marian Perera
07-20-2019, 06:23 PM
The thing is, it feels almost wrong to write about him from the FMC's perspective, because obviously she's going to be physically attracted to him.

I don't know if this will help you at all, but in a romance I wrote, the hero is attractive and sexy, and the heroine notices this when they first meet... but she's demisexual, though this is a historical romance, so she doesn't put a name to it. She only knows that although she notices and admires men's looks, she never feels any kind of involuntary physical response when she meets a man, and that goes for the hero too.

PamelaC
07-20-2019, 06:27 PM
When you are building tension, can you acknowledge the pretty (because I would think that would be realistic if he's so stinking hot) but write her so the FMC only ever experiences a sensual reaction to things other than his looks? (His voice, his accidental touch, his witty joke, etc.) I'm just free-thinking, here, but maybe think about how you would write her attraction to him if she were blind? (Not that I am saying she should be, I obviously don't know your story or your characters.)

Well shoot. Now I totally want her to be blind! LOL!

No, I think you're absolutely right, and that's a great way to think about it. Thanks!

PamelaC
07-20-2019, 06:33 PM
I don't know if this will help you at all, but in a romance I wrote, the hero is attractive and sexy, and the heroine notices this when they first meet... but she's demisexual, though this is a historical romance, so she doesn't put a name to it. She only knows that although she notices and admires men's looks, she never feels any kind of involuntary physical response when she meets a man, and that goes for the hero too.

Okay, I had to Google "demisexual" and that's a possibility. She's definitely not going to have sex or anything close to it on the mind, even when she meets him. She has a good friend who might go on about how hot he is, but FMC just isn't going to be interested. It's like, yes, he's good-looking. So what? That kind of thing. And that's probably because she's been hurt by the last "hot guy" she was involved with.

Okay...this is coming into focus. Good.

Coddiwomple
07-20-2019, 07:21 PM
I’m going to chime in based on a personal experience similar to what lonestarlibrarian mentioned.

A long time ago (how long ago? Don’t ask!) I had a very pleasant summer-before-college relationship with a Very Handsome Guy.

When we met, I experienced an immediate Wow this guy is soooo good looking followed immediately by two assumptions: 1. He’s out of my league and/or completely conceited, and 2. He must be used to women fawning over him.

Turns out 2. was the only accurate assumption. And because said handsome fellow was a decent and intelligent human being, the attention he constantly received from the kinds of girls who would breach his personal space to express their “appreciation” without knowing the first thing about him really put him off. No one who actually interested him would get close enough to get to know him. They all assumed he was (see item 1.)

And I also may have been cuter than I thought back then. :) As my very young daughter said when she first saw my wedding pictures, “Mom! You used to be pretty!” Yeah, thanks daughter. :roll:

CWatts
07-21-2019, 07:06 PM
Those are among my favorites (Beauty and the Beast, Phantom of the Opera)!

My MMC's appealing physical appearance is at the crux of his issues though. His looks led to a terrible past event that has left him deeply damaged. So much so that now he has a really hard time tolerating any positive attention or compliments directed toward his appearance.

Would that experience lead him to downplay his looks? Say growing his beard out and being discheveled, though that of course can make him seem more attractive...

SamanthaDrake
12-13-2019, 06:10 AM
Okay, here's a question that's plaguing me lately. I'm developing my MMC for the romance I want to write, and he has a serious issue with being objectified due to his good looks and sex appeal (which he has in spades). He has a very good reason for this which I won't get into now. Let's just say he's had a rough past.

The thing is, it feels almost wrong to write about him from the FMC's perspective, because obviously she's going to be physically attracted to him.

This sets up plenty of conflict, I guess, but it feels almost...hypocritical of me as a writer? Like "Hey, my hero is really uncomfortable being objectified as a sex symbol! How HOT is that? Let's spend a couple hundred pages using him to fuel our sexual fantasies!"

Is this okay to do? Am I freaking out over nothing?

This almost seems like a problem I would have because I care about my MMC so much but I think since it's a story anything goes. You would not be hypocritical. As long as your characters are being true to their nature it's all good.