Sunday, September 4, 2011

How do I look?

While watching an episode of Undatable, Speedos were up for discussion, and I agree that they’re not a good idea unless you’re David Hasselhoff on Baywatch.
This made me wonder how much a character’s appearance affects their likability. One of our readers was particularly irked because we didn’t spend much time describing our protagonist, and she felt she would feel more sympathetic toward him if she knew what he looked like.
What makes us sympathetic to characters? Would I be sympathetic to a man in Speedos with a big belly and vast amounts of chest hair? Not so much. On the other hand, Tom Selleck as Magnum PI can run around in all the tiny clothes he wants, and I’m painfully sympathetic.
Which brings me back to description and sympathy—should our protagonist be unfortunate looking to bring out reader sympathy? Or should it depend on his brutal life experiences, which are well documented in the story?
I’m thinking again it must depend. And I do agree that more description couldn’t hurt, but how much, where to slip it in, and how to do it without it feeling deliberately inserted after the fact will be the trick.
Obviously, (if we’re using the David Hasselhoff/Tom Selleck measuring stick) looks matter, and I don’t have any solid answers for the questions right now. All I have are gut feelings influenced by Americanized stereotypes. For now the need for additional description of our protagonist is in the discussion stage. Larry and I will hash it out and let you know.
But in the mean time I feel the need for some 1980s drama and poofy mounds of chest hair.

1 comment:

Angela Parson Myers said...

Have to say I'm completely in agreement re: Tom Selleck.