Sex sells. Let’s face it … it’s a universal truth (on some levels) that even writers must indulge now and then. Sex and sexy will sell books. Why do you think book covers are so filled with sexy, beautiful, glittery cover models? How else would the Twilight Saga ever have made any popularity with middle-aged women? Do you think True Blood would be the phenomenon it is had Sookie been a dumpy little thing and Erik Northman not have a case full of abs on his torso?
And just like TV viewers, readers want sexy. Readers want to picture the characters they are reading as uber gorgeous, super models, with ridiculous powers, and a sex life that belittles every encounter they have ever had.
I’ve strugged with this on occassion. I’ve wanted to paint my characters with a bit more of a realistic brush. A short male protagnist, a less than ample-bossomed heroine that doesn’t look drop-dead sexy in a thong. But that’s not happening. Why? Because readers want to escape into worlds unknown. Readers want to fantasize about well toned, eloquent, sexual beings that would have the average mortal rolling their eyes into the backs of their heads with a lick of the lips alone.
Is this fair? Is it just that the average human is relegated to side kick or comic releif? Not at all. But it’s just how it is and we must embrace the idea that no one wants to read about a vampire prone to backne, burping, and BO. And our vampire slayers must be, at least, Buffy-esque; because noone wants a slayer with bad hair or thin lips. It’s just the way it is.
Seriously, if the undead truly existed, do you think they would look like the characters Hollywood has given us? Oh sure that’s what we want … but the truth of the matter is, they’d probably be more Nosferatu than Bill Compton. Vampires can be centuries old — so the idea of beauty they carried with them would probably be a wee bit out of date.
So to those writers desperately wanting to write the average looking into heroism, I highly recommend you do so with a flair for the slapstick or the satiric, because those less-than-Emma-Stone zombie slayers are not going to sell.
To that end, here’s what you need to arm your characters with:
- Abs to die for.
- Lips to lust for.
- Hair anyone would pay for.
- Legs up to “there”.
- Eyes that could seduce with a single blink.
- A body that would launch a pre-pubescent boy into manhood.
- A face to shame the angles.
- A personality unheard of in such beauty.
- An intelligence unfathomable in such beauty.
- A soul.
In otherwords, you must cobble together the perfect human being and make the reader believe that being can not only exist, but would want them:
- In bed.
- For breakfast.
- As a spouse.
- As a dirty, dirty secret.
Seriously. Make that super-model slash genius, slash ninja acrobat come to life off the page and gladly seduce the average reader. Why?
Because sex sells and sexy sells even more.