I love fantastically written, male characters. They’re likable, funny, and make me swoon over the moon. Problem is…it doesn’t happen often enough. That’s wild though. Male characters are awesome!
Two days ago, I wrote Pet Peeves of Female Characters. Trust me when I say that I don’t discriminate in my hate. I hate everyone equally. So let’s take it away…
1. The Manly Man
We’ve all read about this walking ball anger. He’s always furious. If he isn’t angry, he’s about to be angry over the tiniest inconvenience. If his girl didn’t text him back, he’ll punch a wall. He got a bad grade on a test he didn’t study for, he’ll kick the teacher.
Anger is a valid emotion. I remember a time in my life when my anger issues were through the roof. The thing was that I knew that I was an evil gremlin. No one liked me when I was angry and eventually, I had to seek out help.
This dude will never ever get that far, no matter what character arc he receives if any. He will never improve. If he ever does, his character arc will be pathetic and poorly drawn out. He can often be found being dragged out of a bar after attacking another innocent man without any motivation behind his actions.
2. The Statue
This is another version of the manly man but this time, he has no emotions. He is stoic, never showing a shred of vulnerability. He is immune to all mortal temptations: lust, money, and alcohol.
I get it. A ‘manly’ man is expected to not show emotion but let’s not contribute to toxic masculinity. It’s an odd idea but men are human and are able to feel human emotions. Not only does it contribute to toxic masculinity but having a character who never shows vulnerability is flat and bound to spark nothing in the readers.
3. The Sexy Asshole
The Sexy Asshole is rude, arrogant, and intimidating. He pays for your drink even when you’ve politely repeatedly refused. He can never take ‘no’ for an answer.
There may be some excitement in the chase but at some point, most men will realize when women aren’t interested.
What’s even weirder is that the female characters love him! What’s even weirder is that the writers writing this shit show are straight women! What the fuck ladies! We all have a secret code to warn other girl friends of this dude at parties. Now he’s following me in my reading?
4. The Perfect Boy
He’s the star athlete on the football team, has a 4.3 GPA, and is juggling a part-time job along with other extra-curricular. He’s like any other pasty white boy in a novel, brown quiff, and ‘sparkling sapphire eyes’. He’s perfect…almost unrealistic…entirely unrealistic.
Come on y’all-no one is perfect. He has no flaws but the fact that he is so perfect. I don’t need to explain why having a flawless character isn’t smart (hopefully). Flawless characters have no relation to the reader.
5. The Handiman
The most popular guy in school is minding his own business, having some mad bantz with his lads while the new girl clumsily stumbles in. He should be pissed off. It’s what expected of him. His mates are waiting for the humiliation but something changed in him.
Love, at first sight, has stolen all the douchery from him. His whole goal throughout the novel will be for him to win over this broken girl. Oftentimes, this boy would be described as ‘he could have any girl he wanted’. Really, every girl? Because some girls like girls.
The day I believe a man has genuinely changed overnight for a girl he doesn’t know is the day I reread Warcross by Marie Lu and enjoy it. Men aren’t going to wait around to fix a girl. If they do, they probably have their own issues which are an awesome story concept but it shouldn’t be so romanticized.
What’s worst is that some girls will believe that a boy will fix them. Name me a situation where the romanticization of codependent relationships has ended up well.
6. The Whiner
This dude’s life revolves around his penis, maybe even giving it a separate name like The Destroyer. All he thinks about is sex. He sees every girl as a walking hole to put his dick in.
Despite his overwhelming charm, he still hasn’t been laid. Big surprise there. I wonder why. He thinks that women owe him sex just for having some basic human decency. Yet the reader is supposed to sympathize with him?
7. The Comic Relief
I love me some good comic relief. It’s a great way to relieve tension and ensure your readers aren’t feeling too much of the same emotion. Us readers live to control our readers, manipulating their heartstrings like a puppet. I know; we’re all evil.
The problem with the comic relief character is that is all he ever does. He’s just there to tap dance into the scene, shoot a few zingers, then slide right out. It’s great for the protagonist to have a funny BFF. I’m sure he’ll use his potential well…if you are willing to make readers care about him.
This character is unrealistic and will stand out like a sore thumb to readers. The readers will know what you’re doing and it’ll come off as tacky.
Oftentimes, you don’t want to have your readers realize what you’re doing. Make them anxious without realizing how you are doing it. Let them think you were born as an amazing writer. In order to do that though, you gotta be an amazing writer. A good start is by writing realistic people because funny people do have other characteristics.
What all this concludes to is that I love realistic, vulnerable, and flawed male characters in my novels. They put a smile on my face and might even make me swoon. The problem is that male characters are often thought of as needing traditionally ‘masculine’ traits to be a worthwhile character. Fellow writers, let’s write male characters that have personalities and fears.