Because here’s the thing. Just because the writer thinks a boy character is Adonis or the epitome of all things sex and baked goods doesn’t mean the reader will. Just telling me he’s super hot doesn’t make it true for me as a reader. Whether it’s because their words don’t translate the same in my head from the actual description, or just because their physical appearance isn’t really my style, there’s a lot that can go wrong just basing it on physical description alone.
So where do you go from there, if it’s not just telling me he’s hot? Show me.
Does he have a smile that is just slightly higher on one side than the other, or one dimple that goes deeper than the other? Does his forehead wrinkle when he’s in thought or worried, or does he chew on even just the tiniest corner of his lip? What can I learn as a reader that tells and shows me the deeper sides of him? The telltale signs even when his face is otherwise a mask. Does he have long hair that can fall in his face, hiding him just a little? Or is he unable to hide, even when his face goes tomato red?
But beyond habits and quirks, I want to know his personality. I want to know how he comes off to others, and how he acts when it’s just him and someone close to him. I want to see that rough and not caring exterior that a lot of teen boys do have, while still seeing the potential and the good in him. I want to go from hating him to loving him, and eating up his angst that he works so hard to hide from everyone else.
But don’t make him all flaws. Don’t rely only on those flaws to pull him through and make him totally swoonworthy. Find that perfect mix of flawed and good, tender and rough. There isn’t some magical mix of 40% flawed and 60% good that guarantees a boy every girl who reads it will just fall right for him. It’s as specific to the character as it is to the world they live in and the other characters they interact with. Is there that one girl who just completely changes him, who makes him want to change, just because she’s around? Or is he damaging himself, trying to protect his family? What are the reasons for his behaviors? Show those to me, and chances are, once I empathize with him, I’ll start to fall for him.
And just in case you need a few examples, here are a few YA boys who have made me drool and stole my heart even after the book was finished:
Kari is a querying YA writer and book blogger who currently works a day job with a radiologist group and lives in Dallas. She enjoys badgering her dog Toby, meandering around the internet, and reading lots and lots of books. Currently juggling three manuscripts, she’s dreaming for the day she can stay at home and write full time, preferably with a charming boy to cook and clean. You can find her at http://agoodaddiction.blogspot.com/.