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Hunk vs. Pretty Boy: What should our heroes look like?

Updated: Sep 6, 2022

Audience A: My hero needs to be rugged and manly. He needs a strong jaw and a muscular body since he'll be mostly shirtless.

He looks like this:

Audience B: My hero has delicate features. His skin is smooth. He has a sweet smile and pretty eyes.

He looks like this:

One thing that we can agree on is that a big part of fictional romance is fan service. Just like the characters, we need to fall for the love interests. Lately, the hero's physique has been a big factor in the likeability of a character. Most of the time, the guy can be a jerk as long as his hot.

Authors who dare to go deeper than the looks commonly attribute specific personality traits to physical features, this creating two archetypes:

Why We Like the Hunk

1-His main role is to make the heroine feel safe.

2-He excels at physical tasks.

3-He tends to be emotionally withdrawn.

4-Only the heroine gets to see his soft side.

5-He tends to be a realist.

Ex: Gale Hawthorne from Hunger Games

Kristoff from Frozen


Clark Kent/Superman

Why We Like the Pretty Boy

1-His main role is to connect with the heroine on an emotional level

2-He tends to excel at domestic tasks.

3-He tends to be vulnerable with his feelings.

4-He always knows what to say.

5-He tends to be an idealist.

Ex: Jack Dawson from Titanic

Wes Gibbins from How to Get Away with Murder

Edward Cullen from Twilight

Peter Kavinsky fromTo All the Boys I've Loved before

Although these archetypes can be quite endearing, we need a new type of heroes who won't be confined to categories.

Why can't we have a love interest who is chubby, or bald, or shorter than the heroine? Why can't our perfect man have a bodily odor because of a medical condition or a non-sexy scar that stems from an interesting backstory? There's nothing more charming and worth reading than a character with realistic traits and a unique story.

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