My apologies for the lack of posts lately – I’ve been preoccupied in work on Prayer of the Handmaiden (and a bunch of day-job work as well.) But I’m back and ready to keep going with this blog series! So thus far we’ve covered three attraction factors now, physical appearance, personality traits, and special skills. Now we’re going to talk about another, and that’s your character’s background. For this post, I’m going to use a handful of some of my favorite Bold Strokes Books for examples. :)
Though we’d all like to think that we’re open-minded enough not to care about our love interest’s family and history, the fact is that a person’s background often plays heavily into our attraction for one another… Our penchant for “Cinderella” stories, where a commoner wins the heart of someone rich and powerful, is testament to that. So here are a few bits about your characters’ backgrounds that might come into play:
Fame and Fortune
The quintessential Cinderella complex. Does your character have money? If so, is it an inherited family fortune, or is it something they earned for themselves? Or, is your character from a well-known or influential family? Are they related to someone awesome (or someone whose shadow they’re trying to escape?) This last one can be particularly interesting, especially if your character is going to discover, during the course of the story, that they’re actually some long-lost princess or the illegitimate child of a Wall Street tycoon.
The Dark Secret
Another classic – a character with something to hide. A secret mission, a mistake made years ago that carries heavy consequences, a true identity that’s being kept under wraps. Secrets make for opportunities to create intensely emotional scenes as your characters get to know one another.
Things like career history, education, and childhood all fall under the category of life experience. Perhaps your character is a world traveler, or has worked with her father in his glass-blowing workshop since she was a toddler, or spent years in military training. Perhaps they’re a five hundred year old vampire who has fought in both World Wars and ran a speakeasy during Prohibition. Darker stories might include someone who has been the victim of abuse, or spent some time in a mental institution, or had to raise a disabled younger sibling by themselves. What a person has been through in their life, their triumphs and their failures both, is often a draw. We respect survivors. We feel compassion for those who have experienced pain. We admire those who have seen and done things that we haven’t. And a person’s life experience doesn’t have to be unusual to be attractive – it just has to be something that will evoke a bond with their love interest.
So we’ve now covered four key elements of attraction. My next post will talk about they all come together to create something magical…