How Unrealistic is this Romance-Genre Male Character? A Fun Rubric!

It’s no secret that women are often not written very realistically. And it’s easy to tell when the girl main character was created as nothing more than a fantasy trophy.

BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? Women characters are not exclusive to this. More prevalent and obvious, YES. But exclusive, no. Haven’t you ever noticed how every dude in a romance story has AN OUTRAGEOUS combination of “desirable” traits? It’s like the same formula over and over again.

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“Hey. I’m Liam. Captain of the football team. Want to hang out on my family’s yacht?”

Don’t believe me? Watch yourself a romance or pick up a sappy book and use this rubric as you go. Each trait earns ten points, the more points you get the more ridiculously written that character is.

 

+10 He is good looking. Obviously, this is a good place to start. Granted there is going to be some kind of attraction between characters when there’s a romance. But I’m specifically talking about a character who would be considered classically and universally good looking. Great hair. Nice smile. Chiseled chin. Tall. Modelesque rippling abs and pectorals. I mean, if the body type is even being mentioned, he might as well have “heaving bosoms”.

+10 He is smart. This character always offers witty dialogue and banter. He’s funny. He does well in school or inexplicably gets accepted to ivy league colleges. Maybe this character has a job that would need to require some serious intelligence. When he talks to the love interest he probably “surprises her” by mentioning authors/books that he likes or other smart and high cultured things.

+10 He is rich OR is in a high position of power somehow. Okay, this character either has a lot of money himself or comes from a rich family. This character could also be a boss or some kind of leader. Royalty is always popular for some reason.

+10 He is charming. This character is well liked. Popular. Has a lot of friends. Or fans. Usually, there are multiple girl characters who are obsessed with him. He is most likely confident in himself. Anyone who happens to not like him is probably jealous of him.    

+10 He is athletic. Lol. For some reason mentioning the muscles isn’t enough. This character shows ‘em off somehow. His adventuring and swordplay are effortless. He plays on the school sports team. He is probably mentioned to be “the best” at some type of physical skill.

+10 He is musically or artistically talented somehow. This is a character that sits down and plays the guitar or sings for the leading lady. Maybe he draws or paints her a picture. Maybe he immaculately decorates this outdoor area for her without any help. He might have a career as an artist or maybe his incredible talent is mentioned in passing and then never contributes anything else to the plot.

+10 He is passionate. This is an easy ten points. This is a character who is borderline berserk-o bats he is so in love. This character easily professes his love. He’s more than a little stalkerish, he follows her around everywhere even if she says no. His moods are all over the freaking place. He is sometimes yelling and punching antagonists. He oozes with jealousy, over-protection, kissing her roughly, having like zero control over his feelings. This character is SO unbridled that if she weren’t into him, she would take out a restraining order pretty quick.

+10 He is self-sacrificing. Similar to the passion trait but definitely deserves ten points on its own. This is a character who is willing to throw away anything and everything in his life for the love interest. He might give up his job, his family, his opportunities, his dreams. Maybe he gives up who he is- like he’s dangerous in some way, but gives it up for her. Sometimes he just straight up dies for her. The sacrificing thing is one huge wet dream for a woman.

+10 He’s a hero. I don’t care what context it is. If this guy rescues her from getting physically hurt in any way, shape or form. That is an automatic ten points for me.

+10 Despite having all of these characteristics he goes for an awkward underdog MC for no real reason. Yes, I’m a cynic. But COME ON. Real talk here. Why is this have-it-all-dude going to go for this rinky-dink no-one-has-ever-wanted-me-like-this chick? Right off the bat, he is in deep with her, but we never really get why. I guess because she’s attractive or something? You tell me.

 

And yes, before you call me out, I tried this rubric out with the romantic interest in my own novel and YES, I am in no way clean of this either. He scored fifty points… which is more than murkily cliché but still better than Noah from The Kissing Booth who scores an eye-rolling NINETY POINTS.

So what is the takeaway? The take away is this: As a writer, don’t be afraid to make your main characters less than perfect. We will still like them. IN FACT, we will like them MORE if we relate to their weaknesses. Is it sexy to envision a man sprawled across a worn couch, binging Netflix with Dorito dust all over his shirt? Not really. Do I want him to find love? HECK YES SO MUCH SO INVESTED. But why though? BECAUSE THAT’S MEEEEEEE! We’re the sticky gross humans looking for happiness in all the wrong places! YOUR AUDIENCE. Reach out! Connect! Don’t just give us one real person to cheer on. Give us two! Make me believe that both of them are better off together, not that one person is already swimming in the sweet life and his/her life can’t be upgraded by anyone.

Just an opinion of a half-cynic. Wink wink.

How I Motivate Myself

After the announcement of all my doings and goings on in the writing world, I’ve been hearing a lot of the same thing: I would love to do something like that, if I had that kind of motivation.

Motivation is an interesting thing. I think first and foremost the best motivation for something is having a sincere love for that thing. What is important to you? How do you prioritize your time?  I write because I feel absolutely uncontrollably COMPELLED to do it. If I don’t write for a long period of time, I get really irritable. No joke. It’s a part of me that I fully embraced a couple of years ago and haven’t been able to let go.

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But I will let you in on another secret motivational tool that I use… like a practical non-metaphoric one. It’s what got me to write a novel in twenty days. It’s the reason I’m producing short stories almost daily. In fact, it’s what is motivating me to write this blog post right now. Do you want to know what it is?

Brownies.

I buy a package of really good-looking brownies from my local grocery store. I set in on the counter where I have to see it all the time. And then I DO NOT LET MYSELF have one until I have written 1,000 words.

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These little suckers

I’ll put Jack down for a nap and be COMPLETELY EXHAUSTED… and yet, I cannot stop thinking about those freaking brownies. So I very quickly write a whole bunch of words until I’ve hit the goal. And then I can finally have one.

And then you know what happens? After I eat one… I want a FREAKING ‘NOTHER ONE.

So I end up writing another thousand words, because my pregnancy cravings are too strong for me to even handle.

And that’s how I do it. And that’s why I’m even writing this post right now. I write like a steam engine trying to get a DeLorean back to 1985… and then later I go back and edit that mess… for which I reward myself more chocolate.

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It’s worked SOOOO well that I’ve actually started doing housework for small bottles of Coke. You should SEE my house right now.

Utilize your vices. Make your weaknesses work for you. Are you a fatty like me? Dude. Set goals for baked goods and you’ll be SHOCKED at the results.

In reality, dreams are really hard work. Even your passion can flicker out every once in while and that’s okay. Dangle a carrot in front of your face and KEEP AT IT!

 

ALSO PS. If you didn’t catch last week’s blog post. I have a short story being published in an anthology that comes out next month. I made some promotional artwork for it because it was really late at night and apparently I hate sleeping.

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It’s a YA story about a girl who visits her all-time crush at work after he tells her that “HE NEEDS TO TALK TO HER”DUN DUN DUN! Ooh, gurrrl. You know she had a panic-induced cringe after getting that message on her phone. Anyways, the book is available for pre-order. You can check it out here:  https://www.zpublishinghouse.com/products/utahs-emerging-writers-an-anthology?variant=14625753694323

 

HELP! I NEED READERS!

In between sending out queries and waiting, I’ve been factory producing short stories. Now I have a small pile on my desk that I need help evaluating before I try to send them to any magazines… do you think you could help a sista out??

I have a ton of options. Lots of different genres. If you could spare anywhere from two to seventeen-page reading minutes. Oh my goodness, that would help me out SO MUCH!

 

WANTED:

HISTORY-LOVER FOR AN ACCURATE STORY ABOUT THE TITANIC

Quick Synopsis: Edith Russel was an American fashion designer and journalist. She was also a first-class passenger on The Titanic. This is her story, compiled from her own accounts of what happened that night.

Little Pig

4,640 words. Reading Time: 16 minutes

 

WANTED:

A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR FOR A QUIRKY RETELLING OF TAMING OF THE SHREW

Quick Synopsis: Raven hates everyone at school and does a great job keeping them away… except for overly-confident jock Tristan Dolton who won’t stop asking her to prom.

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Disclaimer: I tried to translate the language from its Shakespearean predecessor as closely as I could realistically… that being said, the most ratchet dirty jokes survived into this draft. (lol) PLEASE Do not sign up for this story if you can’t handle a heavy PG-13 level of crudeness, language or an insufferable male character who doesn’t understand the word ‘no’.

2,110 words. Reading Time: 7 minutes.

 

WANTED:

OVERWORKED PARENT FOR A MOMMY STORY ABOUT BRUNCH

Quick Synopsis: Rather than go to a prestigious restaurant with her friends, Melissa stays home and battles her daughter over a peanut butter sandwich.

BRUNCH BUDDIES

1,136 words. Reading Time: 4 minutes.

 

WANTED:

THRILLS AND CHILLS SEEKER FOR SOME SERIOUS TWILIGHT ZONE WEIRDNESS

Quick Synopsis: Lauren believes she has met the perfect man, until he spontaneously combusts on the floor of her apartment.

MR. RIGHT

2,240 words. Reading Time: 12 minutes.

 

Here is the Google Form where you can sign up for any and all stories that you would like. Just be sure to drop your email and we’ll be in touch. Thanks!

 

Also, low-key, I have ANOTHER short story being published in an anthology which is now available for PRE-ORDER y’all! “A Quick Visit” is a YA Contemporary with some romantic feels (not unlike my novel). It will be available in Utah’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology which comes out on September 16th. If you want it a couple of weeks earlier you can order it here: https://www.zpublishinghouse.com/products/utahs-emerging-writers-an-anthology?variant=14625753694323

 

Welcome To My Home… I Guess?

Is it cheating if I was a major player in the embarrassing story, but not the embarrassee? Because this hilarious thing happened to me a couple of days ago and I thought it was worth sharing…

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So, let me set the scene for you. It’s a random morning. Toys are littered all across the carpet. Sesame Street is on full blast. Jack is in his high chair eating a waffle and I’m doing the dishes. Pretty standard.

Suddenly, I hear a key unlock the front door. I’m like… Dan has JUST left to work. He must have forgotten something or maybe he has the day off (like in my wildest dreams).

The door wooshes open. Immediately followed by this unsure pause. At this point, I think Dan’s being funny or something. Maybe he’s trying to prank me. I poke my head around the corner to see…

Not Dan. Not anyone I’ve ever met before. There was this total stranger. A girl about my age staring at me in COMPLETE BEWILDERMENT.

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Me: Okay, uh… Hello?

Her: … I think the leasing office gave me the wrong key.

So apparently, she was going to check on a “vacant” apartment to give a tour later that day, but instead checked in on mine. I can only imagine what she must have thought when she opened the door. “SQUATTERS! With Sesame Street … and family pictures hanging on the wall… ummm…”

I’m just glad that I was actually wearing pants that morning.

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Pitching my Weird Pregnancy Dreams as Book Ideas

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Okay, so I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, but sometimes when I dream it’s not about myself… That is to say, that sometimes I dream in a “movie format” with it’s own characters and plot twists and everything. This especially happens when I’m sick. And if I’m sick and pregnant, the story-dreams are even crazier.

So I started writing them down as if I were pitching them to agents as book ideas. Here they are for your enjoyment! (Forgive the conspiracy thrillers. It’s been a rough first trimester.)

 

Retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, but the giant is made out of pulled taffy.

A family of four tries to escape a mall as an active shooter works his way towards them.

A cheerleader is forced to spend time with some of the grossest and geekiest outcasts of the school (stylized as a 1980s John Hughes comedy).

A down-on-his-luck father is hired to work for the United States’ most extensive underground mob.

Four amateur and bumbling criminals decide to rob a bank accidentally at the same time as four violent and capable criminals.

A woman takes down a group of terrorists on a cruise ship by using an animal-shapeshifting superpower.

Queen Elizabeth is let in on a secret plan to assassinate one of her own government officials right before her daughter announces that she’s fallen in love with him.

A group of young boys find themselves trapped in a house with strange and mysterious properties, competing for the only exit.

A lonely high school kid is granted the ability to become invisible for a day. He uses his new skill to learn that his fellow students have their own demons.

A high school girl begins to accurately dream the future the day before her premonitions become true. At first it’s all fun and games, until her dream predicts that she will somehow become hopelessly lost in the dark woods.

“Morty’s Fun House of Outrageous Revoked Licences: The Strangest Reasons People Have Had Their Driver’s Licenses Taken Away” (I flipped through this book in a dream haha)

A doctor is hired by a corrupt pharma company to pretend that he has a specific degenerate disease in order to falsify research.

BONUS: I dreamt that my husband and I were contestants on The Bachelor/Bachelorette but living in the same house. We made a vow to give up our roses for each other

 

Which one would you read as a book or go see as a movie? Do any of you creative people have out of control dreams like this?

Novel Update: Back from the Editor!

So in case I haven’t spammed you well enough and you somehow don’t know… I’ve been working on a YA novel for the past six months. It’s about an LDS girl who tries to fit in with a group of burnouts, and it’s lightly based on some experiences that I had in high school.

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Completely finished three drafts (woot!) and hired a freelance editor to take a look at the project. I do plan to try for traditional publishing which would probably require another editor anyway… but my thinking is that it was more of an investment into my skills as a whole. Trying to improve my craft overall.

The timing was impeccable honestly. My morning sickness had me out all of March and my book came back right when I was feeling better. (Um, amazing!) Now I could actually process the daunting six page editor’s letter.

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(ALSO) If you are a writer and are considering hiring an editor. I wholeheartedly recommend doing it. It was expensive (my only Christmas gift). But in my experience, it was worth every penny. She addressed all the concerns that I had for the piece, but could actually tell me what to do about it. It is worth it my friends!

Mostly her recommendations were things to add in, opposed to changing. Which YAY! Because writing more book is WAY more fun than re-structuring everything. She also mentioned that my writing was some of the cleanest that she had come across… which had me like “Wha? Really??” For a first time novel that I wrote in twenty days. Um yeah, that’s a compliment.

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So anyways, didn’t mean to blab on so much about it, but in short – It’s going well. Haha

Now, with the brainstorming help of my editor I am starting draft numero 4. And I am hoping that this is the one I can present to potential gatekeepers and book Gods. So cross your fingers for me! I would love to finish it before I move to AZ, but realistically… who even knows.

Novel Update Also New Blog Schedule

Hey there, hi there, ho there.

So I’ve been writing a book, which you may have already heard about. If you were wondering how that is going… Ummmmmm… THIS GIRL IS ON FI-ARE!!!

Like I’m not even sure what is going on. I wrote the entire first draft in twenty freaking days. And I guess that wasn’t over-achiever enough for me because I revised and rewrote the entire second draft the following month. So that means, that from the 1st of November to the 28th of December, I wrote, redrafted and rewrote a 200 page novel.

While also designing covers. While also being a mom of a toddler. While also holidays and stuff. Whaaaaaat even happened? Like maybe I’m actually a cyborg or something? Because I don’t even know how that could have actually been a thing.

But yeah! That happened. Will that happen again in my life? I doubt it. But right now my little book is pushing right along. Only three people have read it so far, but the numbers are adding up quickly. Right now, I have two critique partners scrutinizing their way through it, as well as an editor lined up. Even though this process is going quick for me (NOT NORMAL) I’m still trying to be thorough and am planning on a few more drafts (Started draft three today WHAT EVEN). Depending on what the editor says I’ll likely be sending it off to agents in the summer. (AAAAAAAAAAAAH!)

So that’s crazy.

 

Also a while back I posted a survey asking what I should do with the blog in 2018. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OF YOU requested that I please keep the embarrassing stories segment… which I have tons of material for so that’s not a problem. I was glad to see that the “story time format” was so well loved, because I have soooo many stories outside of the embarrassing realm. Which brings me to this…

I am adding a second monthly story time called “The Craziest Things That Have Ever Happened to Me”

You can expect the first installment of that next Thursday, where I tell you something that happened to me just last week. Very exciting. Subscribe so that you don’t miss a single ridiculous story.

Here’s a visual representation of the 2018 schedule:

Week 1: Mommy Post / Family Things

Week 2: Embarrassing Stories

Week 3: Writing Updates / Samples / Various Essays

Week 4: The Craziest Things That Have Ever Happened

Occasional Week 5: Lazy Recipes