If there’s one thing I’m confident about, it’s that I write a damn good book boyfriend. And even though I have just one published book to my name, the love interest I crafted for my main character is swoonworthy as heck. And I think that my book boyfriend-writing skills transferred well into my side projects, too. I have a sexy story blog with a load of short stories featuring excellent book boyfriends.
One is a dashing South African rugby-player-turned-sales exec who lives to go down (link: https://sarahwritessmut.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/first-blog-post/).
One is a college-age hottie who loves to please older ladies (link: https://sarahwritessmut.wordpress.com/2018/01/28/just-a-number/).
One is a tatted up and ripped bartender who tosses douchebags into the street when they hassle female patrons (link: https://sarahwritessmut.wordpress.com/2018/02/24/cash-only/).
And all of them are emotionally mature and express their feelings for their ladies openly and without hesitation.
All this time I’ve spent creating delicious fictional gents has helped me develop a sort of how-to guide on writing book boyfriends that readers will fall for. Every time I start a new book or story, I make sure my guy ticks all these boxes. So for those interested in crafting your own book boyfriend, here are some hopefully helpful guidelines.
Make him hot
Yes, this is incredibly shallow, but in fictional romances, fantasy is a huge element. And in my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with making your fantasy man aka book boyfriend a mega hottie. Now, “hot” is subjective. There are many different types of attractive in romance, and that’s what I love most about the genre. So whether the book boyfriend you’re creating is Disney prince handsome or a bit rough around the edges with tattoos and scars, don’t hold back in the physical description of him. Tell readers how he dwarfs anyone standing next to him because of his hulky form and presence. Talk about his hair — is it thick and super fun to tangle while making out? Is it buzzed so short that it tickles the main character’s thighs when he goes down? Don’t forget about his eyes. Everything from their color to the way they make the main character feel whenever he gazes at her is key in helping readers fall for him. Is he thickly muscled or on the leaner side? Is his skin a beautiful blank canvas or does sport a few rugged scars? Do what you can to paint a vivid picture in readers’ minds.
Don’t make him easy
As tempting as it is to make a book boyfriend agreeable (because wouldn’t life be grand if every man were hot AND easy to get along with?), where’s the fun in that? Creating some form of conflict and tension is key to a compelling romance. One way to do that is by making sure that the book boyfriend you’re writing isn’t a perfect angel who never messes up. Give him flaws. Give him personality quirks. Give him a prickly shell that other characters can’t penetrate, but that the main character eventually chisels through when their connection forms. Give him a smart-ass sense of humor that gets on the main character’s nerves, which kicks off an initial conflict between the two of them. You get the idea.
Give him depth
This goes along with the whole “don’t make him easy” guideline, but it’s important enough that I wanted to make it its own point. Giving your book boyfriend depth makes him feel like a real person to readers. And by depth, I mean making him more than just a hot physical specimen. It’s writing him so that he has convincing emotional reactions to the events in the story. Let him have a moment of anger when he’s challenged or when something goes wrong. Show him when he’s scared. Maybe it’s the idea of losing someone close to him. Maybe it’s the thought of opening himself up to the main character. Doing any or all of this gives your book boyfriend vulnerability, which helps him feel even more human and real.
Make him swoonworthy
Swoothworthy to me means more than just looking hot — it lies in a book boyfriend’s actions. And honestly, it’s less about grand gestures and more about the little things. Swoonworthy to me means a book boyfriend that notices the main character loves hot sauce, so he grabs an extra handful of hot sauce packets when they go out to eat. It’s him changing his flight to a later time so he can spend more time with her. It’s him texting her out of the blue how beautiful she is. It’s him sending her a small but thoughtful gift for no reason at all — just because he is utterly smitten with her. It’s him reaching for her hand to hold in public. It’s him defending her when some prick side character tries to insult her. It’s him punching out a creep who’s harassing her. It’s any gesture that illustrates just how much he cares about her.
Make it obvious just how much he loves his lady
Declarations of love are a must in romance and you most definitely want your book boyfriend to declare his love for his lady at some point in the story. How and when in the plot you make this happen is up to you as the writer, and I adore all journeys to the “I love you.” I go crazy when the book boyfriend is the first to say the “L” word. There’s just something so damn satisfying about a book boyfriend who is one hundred percent comfortable in his emotions that he’s unafraid to say out loud in front of everyone how he feels.
I can even get behind a book boyfriend who fights his feelings of love at first because he’s been burned in the past. Bonus: this makes a killer black moment (the point in a romance when it seems like all hope is lost). My only caveat is that when the book boyfriend finally comes to his senses and states his love for the main character, he does it with some major groveling. Like, profuse apologies or a wrenching monologue about how life sucked without her and he’ll spend every waking moment try to prove he’s worthy of her. A grand gesture would actually work well in this moment too, if you feel so inclined.
Who are some of your book boyfriends? Tweet me at @teamechavarre and tell me all about them!