Constructing the Perfect Man- Hey Good Lookin’

I was reading along on my Facebook feed the other day and noticed that a writer friend posted a question about romance books.  One of her friends replied to her post something like, “I don’t read romance because the guys in those books are never the kind I’d go for.”

And it got me thinking. In romance novels, there’s generally one kind of “hero.” He’s often (although not always, of course) tall, dark, and handsome, and in some way rugged, often a jack-of-all-trades, most often muscley, strong, loyal, and at least by the end, loving. He’s the perfect man.

Right? But maybe not. All women are different. All of us are attracted to different kinds of men– the bad-boy, the outdoorsy-type, the funny-man. All of us are attracted to different physical features as well.

And because I’m a writer, I’m always looking to please the reader and reach outside of that cookie-cutter hero to create a character who is attractive to a broader audience.

Now while we know that no man is perfect, we also all know that the “perfect man” is made up of a lot more than just looks.  There’s a lot more to creating a character that a reader can fall for, but I want to focus on one element at a time.

Reader-friends, writer-friends- I need your help.  I want your definition of the perfect man, one trait at a time.

Generally there is a formula that is followed for creating a hero-type, so we are going to break it down over the next few weeks. I want NEED your responses.

Today in Part 1 of this series of posts, let’s talk about physical features. I think we can all agree that in general, there’s a definition of what’s physically attractive. However, we are all attracted in different ways.

To prove the point, let’s talk for a sec about James Bond. While his “character” remains the same, I think that every lady out there is attracted to a different James Bond. For me, it’s Sean Connery all the way.  Possibly followed by Timothy Dalton, then Pierce Brosnan and so on. But Daniel Craig? Ew. I don’t find him attractive at all. And what about you? Which Bond do you find the most physically attractive?

Or if you need another example, let’s take the ever popular vampire.  Since vampires seem to be the “trendy” man to fall in love with, which vampire would you choose? Edward Cullen from Twilight? Stefan or Damon from The Vampire Diaries? Or how about Bill or Eric from True Blood? All of them are different physically, yet offer the same appeal.

What is the first physical feature you notice about a man? Eyes? Lips? Hands? Smile?

I find that my eye is generally attracted to men who fall into that “dark” category. Dark hair and eyes, and 90% of the time, I’ve noticed that the men I find handsome usually have a dimple in their chin. Weird, huh?

But what about you? When you are reading a romance novel or watching a movie or TV show, what kind of man do you find physically attractive? Are you in the tall, dark and handsome group, or the sandy-haired, tanned beach guy? Or how about a man with rough hands from working outside?

Share with me: Thinking physical features only (we’ll do personality, emotional, etc., later) what do you find attractive in a man? What is the first physical feature you tend to notice? Can you give me an example of someone (other than your spouse or significant other because that’s a given) that you find physically attractive and why?


Filed under Writing

13 responses to “Constructing the Perfect Man- Hey Good Lookin’

  1. I don't know! I just know when I see the face. Like, wow – he's handsome. I think Paul Wesley is gorgeous, but I also think Ashton Kutcher and my husband are gorgeous and all three are very different looking. So….I'm not sure. I like me some broad shoulders and a tall man, though. No shorties for me.

  2. Sexy eyes, teeth, strong hands…I melt like buttah!Nothing wrong with a nice ass either 😉

  3. I notice eyes first. Well, honestly, I probably notice height first, but will overlook height (I mean, it's not THAT hard to be taller than I am) for eyes.The vast majority of the time, I'm attracted to dark hair and blue or green eyes–the "Black Irish" look. Think Patrick Dempsey–but current PD, not "Can't Buy Me Love" era Dempsey. He was entirely too gangly then.

  4. I like dark guys, too, with dark hair and dark eyes. The first few things I notice about a guy, though, is his height and his arms. Pretty teeth are also always a plus! For me, though, personality always wins out so I'm excited for that post!

  5. Katie- No shorties for you. :)Kim- Can you explain what you mean by "sexy" eyes? Do you like lots of dark lashes, etc? Kim & Emily- I tend to notice teeth, too. And smiles. Robert Pattinson doesn't do it for me, but I think he has a great, great smile.Lyndsey- dark with light eyes is attractive to me too. I know how you love your PD! :)Thanks for the comments, ladies!

  6. Jenny,Have you read A Prayer for Owen Meany in your research? The hero-protagonist is described as unattractive. It's also interesting that protagonist of Scripture is never given physical description in the Gospels accept in spiritual terms (transfiguration). I'm operating on the belief that western literature is founded on the pattern Scripture's metanarrative. Isa 53 is all about the Messiah having no beauty that we should desire him. So, I guess I'm suggesting the negative side of "attractive" is possible for the hero type.But that's the seminary guy's take because all I read is theology.

  7. I'd tell you my ideal female, but I'd be accused of sexism and not appreciating women for their minds. Actually, I found your post interesting.

  8. Gene- great, important stuff. And I love that you point that out, because I've thought about that before- that Christ is not attractive because of the physical features he possessed. But for a romance novel, some sort of physical attraction between the characters is usually necessary.David- Don't worry- I'll be posting on the perfect heroine soon. 🙂 Although, the fascinating thing is that men and women who read the same book tend to see the heroine VERY differently and need to identify with her/to her in different ways. Keep a lookout for that series of posts when we finish up the "perfect man" set.Fellas- keep in mind that when writing romance, the readership is largely female, and tends to "fall" for the lead character, meaning writers have to make him somehow attractive in all ways, not just physical. These posts are a general survey of what women find attractive.Thanks for the comments! 🙂 Y'all are awesome!

  9. As a man I have certain traits about women that attract my attention at first sight. At first sight is what I think you are getting at initially. I also know that all men are different and assured that all women are too. I have a point, I think. In books, I’m not concerned on the appearance of characters but I don’t read romance. Whether the author tells me what they look like or not, the character in my head is portrayed mostly from my imagination first and then with slight help from the author in his/her descriptions. The romance genre is different and if I am not mistaken certain rules apply depending on the publishers and sub-genre. Correct me if I am wrong. What I am getting at, I would rather see the author hint at the appearance and allow the reader to form his/her own image that suits their attractiveness meter, other than describe what the author sees which may or may not appeal to others. I don’t need to know if his eyes are blue, just tell me it mirrors the beauty I see and feel within myself.

  10. Decent muscles, particularly around the shoulders and pecs. You know, the kind of guy that, if I tripped next to him could catch me and make sure I didn't hit the ground. But since I'm no lightweight the guy would have to be reasonably built 🙂

  11. By sexy eyes – I'm partial to blue or green, but I think it's when Men smile with their eyes (if you don't get it – you don't watch America's Top Model… it's a slight squint, but just with the eyes.) Eyelashes don't impress me because it seems ALL men have long lashes when it's us that want them. But overall, a man that can make me laugh gets ten bonus points.

  12. Jeff- love your point! Definitely a great thought for authors to pay attention to.Anne-Mhairi- strong is definitely a quality that "most" romance leading men possess, right? :)Kim- glad to understand! And I learned everything about "smysing" from Trya Banks! 🙂 Yeah, what's up with men having great lashes? Doesn't seem fair…

  13. So, I recently comment on your FB page that Alex O'Laughlin is the perfect man. While he's certainly this single gal's flavor of the year; I've also come to the conclusion that David James Elliot as Commander Harmon Rhabb on JAG was the perfect man! Not only was he pilot, but a FIGHTER PILOT! Need I say more?! 😉 He was incredibly handsome, intelligent, had survival skills, an ace with weapons, had a sense of humor, but most importantly has a magnificent sense of integrity. While I am incredibly physically attracted to a man with strong hands, broad shoulders, toned muscles, and perfect teeth…it might sound strange to say that I'm also attracted to a man on a much deeper level that has strong integrity.

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