Thursday, July 26, 2012

Swoonworthy Male Characters in YA Novels

What keeps readers going back to the pages of a book? In the case of female readers it’s the hero. We’ve all read about “the hero’s journey” and all the trials he must face to succeed in his quest, but what about his sex appeal? What is it about them that makes the young girls’ (and sometimes old girls’) J hearts beat faster?

Today’s special blog guest is Becca Puglisi, one half of The Bookshelf Muse blogging duo, and co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression. Listing the body language, visceral reactions and thoughts associated with 75 different emotions, this brainstorming guide is a valuable tool for showing, not telling, emotion.

You can win a PDF Copy of the Emotional Thesaurus simply by:

1.   Following The Storyteller’s blog
2.   And leaving a comment.
A random program will select the winner on August 1st

Becca and Angela Ackerman have been touring blogs of children’s authors discussing random topics dealing with the theme of “The Top Five.”  The top five topic today at The Storyteller’s Scroll is Swoonworthy Heroes in YA Novels.

So I was pondering what Top 5 topic I wanted to profile and I started thinking about my favorite male characters in YA. So that got me thinking: what WOULD appeal to today’s readers, particularly girls? And it occurred to me that if you’re going to write a YA with any romance whatsoever, your male counterpart has to be totally swoonworthy.

But what does that mean? What characteristics make up this elusive trait? Let’s explore, shall we? Here are my top 5 swoonworthy characters in YA, in no particular order:

1.  Four, Divergent/Insurgent. Oh, Four. Talk about your strong, silent type. As Tris’s instructor, he’s sharp and physically impressive and has no problem taking charge. But on a personal level, he’s mysterious. He’s got secrets and is clearly haunted by something. And in a Dauntless world that’s quickly declining into chaos, he maintains a higher moral standard, longing for the best that his faction could be. All very appealing qualities.

2.  Kartik, A Great and Terrible Beauty. As a member of the Rakshana, it’s Kartik’s job to protect Gemma, and I’ll throw political correctness to the wind and state my opinion that, for the most part, girls like a guy who makes them feel safe. Another thing that makes Kartik attractive is the fact that you’re not sure at first if he’s just doing his duty or if he’s romantically interested in Gemma. Once again, a little mystery in a leading man goes a long way.

3.  Orlando Gardiner, Otherland. Ok, so the Otherland series isn’t YA, but Orlando’s a teen, and maybe the most compelling one I’ve read. He spends most of his day plugged into the Net as an ├╝ber-strong barbarian playing a MMORPG. But he also has a secret (I’m seeing a theme here). In reality, he’s suffering from a degenerative disease that has aged him before his time. When things get dangerous on the net, he does everything he can to save himself and his friends despite his declining health. His courage and vulnerability and self-sacrifice make him one of my all-time favorite characters.

4.  Etienne St. Clair, Anna and the French Kiss. Etienne’s, in that effortless, messed-up-hair-but-don’t-care kind of way. There are a million of these characters in YA, but what makes him different is that he’s also kind and unassuming and not entirely sure of himself in certain situations. He’s different from most love interests because he’s the kind of guy we actually have a chance of running into at school or in a movie theater or at the mall. Accessibility is always attractive.

5.  Aragorn. Ok, okay, OKAY! So Aragorn isn’t a teen and The Lord of the Rings isn’t YA. But please. Self-doubt, a man with a destiny, charisma, the future king of the world of men, Middle Earth’s Ultimate Fighting Champion--all of this, and I can’t include Aragorn? Leaving him off of a list of swoonworthy characters is like trying to make cake without sugar, or having Mountain without the Dew. I mean, really. What’s the point?

So, for what it’s worth, here are a thirty-something’s thoughts on YA love interests. If you want to write a character that will appeal to girls, maybe start with some of the traits these guys share. But clearly, I’m no expert, so please, do chime in. What swoonworthy male YA characters have you read recently, and what makes them that way?

The Emotion Thesaurus is available for purchase through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Smashwords, and the PDF can be purchased directly from her blog.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

bellydancer smiley, belly smiley, dancing smiley, dance smiley
The Storyteller's Daughter by Gayle C. Krause
Timeless YA Historical Romance Anthology
Pugalicious Press, July 2012

Buy it now at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Look for Timeless YA Romantic Anthology This Month!


Look for this fantastic anthology of YA Historical Romantic Short Stories, available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. ENJOY!

Energized to Write for the New Year

 So happy to be attending the SCBWI National Conference this week. My peer critiques went well two nights ago, and energized me to see the p...