I thought this post would be easy. After all, I'd just written a boyfriend into the Heirs of Watson Island series, and I don't even want to think about how many hours I've spent with him. I'd also just finished going through the results of the Book Boyfriend Contest, in which I asked people to list the qualities they consider important in a book boyfriend. Which was all sorts of eye-opening fun, so I'm including the results again below.
|attractiveness (in various subjective forms)|
|sweet, generous, compassionate etc.|
|funny, sense of humor, witty, mischievous, etc.|
|intelligent, smart, loves books, educated, etc.|
|tough, dominant, possessive, bad ass, foul mouthed, rugged, brutish, bad boy, etc.|
|trustworthy, real, reliable, trusting, dependable, honest|
|gentleman, respectful, good listener, supportive, understanding, thoughtful, old-fashioned, etc|
|loyal, family oriented, best-friend|
|loving, romantic, likes to cuddle|
|loves dogs, horses, animals, cats, coffee, pizza, movies, music, coffee, and various other specific preferences|
|alpha male, protective|
|snarky, smart ass, sarcastic, smirky, etc.|
|charming, smooth talker, outgoing, etc.|
|bold, fearless, adventurous, brave|
|adorkable, dorky, nerdy, different, quirky|
|exciting, passionate, spontaneous|
|sane, not a criminal, employed, good hygeine, has all teeth, smells good -- aka, the very basics : )|
|strong minded, strong, determined, confident|
|intense, haunted eyes, broken, moody, angsty|
|happy, easy going, balanced|
Interesting and kind of scary, right? Almost as scary as realizing that just like pretty much everything else I've ever thought was going to be "easy," writing about how to write a book boyfriend is hard. Because when I really sat down and thought about the process, I had No. Clue. It wasn't as if I'd sat down before hand and done a catalog of qualities that would make him "boyfriendish." Not in general. I made him specific to my main character, Barrie. I made him a person--the right person for her.
And I guess that's what it comes down to when building a book boyfriend. It isn't about the author--or even the readers, really. Readers are all very different, and as clearly seen from the survey results, there are many different kind of guys that appeal to many different kinds of readers. (Although clearly THERE IS SOMETHING to be said for nice guys with a side of bad.)
At the most basic level, a book boyfriend is character. One who is pivotal to the story, which means he has to be equally compelling to the main character. But since we aren't always going to be in his head, we get to play all kinds of games about how to get his motives across. Which is just about my favorite thing to do.
I actually do a lot of worksheets when developing characters. I think about their backgrounds and by the time I'm done, I pretty much know what makes them tick in terms of appearance, personality, strengths and weaknesses, goals and wants. And then when I sit down to write, everything kind of shifts. The characters become their own people. I can tell them what to do, and sometimes, they turn around a flip me off.
Eight was a bit like that. He turned out kinder than I expected, and more disillusioned with his family and Watson Island than I expected. He was a little bit more patient with Barrie than I expected--okay, a lot more patient with her. Their relationship is a bit like those old movies that I love, where there's a bit of animosity because there are reasons why the two can't trust each other, but neither can deny the attraction.
So why can't they deny the attraction? That's the most critical step in building a book boyfriend. In Barrie's case, she isn't sure. Could it be because Eight is:
- Has a kickass sailboat called the Away
- Knows everyone in town and is so universally charming that Barrie wants to slap him
- Has a knuckle ball that can't be hit and a baseball scholarship to USC
- Is smart but dyslexic, so at least that keeps him humble. Okay, not THAT humble.
That's the second key to building a book boyfriend, I think. As compelling as you make the reason for the main character and the guy to want to be together, you have to give them an equally compelling reason why it isn't going to work.
Which is, of course, where book two in any romantic trilogy comes in. : )
I'm thrilled to announce there will be a cover reveal for PERSUASION, book two of the HEIRS OF WATSON ISLAND trilogy on Thursday 2/5/15. Look for it on the USA TODAY Happily Ever After blog, and then check out the FABULOUS giveaways we'll be having at Mundie Moms, Two Chicks on Books, Reading Teen, Candace's Book Blog, Page Turners, and Romance at Random. It's going to be fun! : )
TWO HUGE BOOK BOYFRIEND GIVEAWAYS IN THE MEANTIME
I'm including some of my favorite book boyfriends in the first giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Plus there's an overall book boyfriends giveaway for the blog tour!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Want more book boyfriends and more amazing prizes? Catch the full 14 Days of Fictional Swooning Schedule!
February 1st- Fiction Fare
February 1st- Swoony Boys Podcast
February 2nd- Literary, etc.
February 3rd- Adventures in YA Publishing
February 3rd- A Soul Unsung: Book Gossip for the Soul
February 4th- Bookish Things & More
February 5th- Books and Swoons
February 5th- Love at First Page
February 6th- Awesome Book Nuts
February 6th- Mainstream Passionista
February 6th- The Book Sphere
February 7th- I Turn the Pages
February 7th- Andi's ABCs
February 8th- Na's Not So Newsworthy Thoughts
February 8th- WhoRUBlog
February 9th- Gun in Act One
February 9th- We So Nerdy
February 10th- What Sarah Read
February 10th- Flutters and Flails
February 11th- The Book Addict's Guide
February 11th- Effortlessly Reading
February 11th- Lostbraincell's Bookish Blog
February 12th- GReads!
February 12th- Books Equal Awesomeness
February 13th- My Friends Are Fiction
February 13th- Lee Kelly: New Write City
February 14th- Fiction Fare
February 14th- Swoony Boys Podcast
Share with us. What's YOUR favorite kind of book boyfriend? Leave a comment below!