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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Beauty: Around Us And In Our Books

Definition of beauty:
  1. The quality that gives pleasure to the mind or senses and is associated with such properties as harmony of form or color, excellence of artistry, truthfulness, and originality.
  2. One that is beautiful, especially a beautiful woman.
  3. A quality or feature that is most effective, gratifying, or telling.
Beauty surrounds us in all forms; landscape, paintings, people. What may seem beautiful to one person may not have the same effect on someone else. 

As the saying goes, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". 

Beauty on the outside doesn't mean or guarantee a beautiful person or thing on the inside. 

Beauty fades; personality or  elements may not retain outward appearance, but inner beauty can remain. This includes people, places, things. 

What's more important? Outward beauty or beauty inside? I'd choose inner beauty.

In romance books, covers portray pleasing, sexy images of heroines/women. But do books always describe characters as beautiful? 

In "Gone to the Dogs", Katie talks about needing to lose weight; those extra pounds that always creep up when you're not looking. Mike's attracted to her; he likes her looks and spunky attitude. Would he call her beautiful? Maybe. Would others agree? Maybe not.

I didn't "write" Katie to be a beauty queen. I wanted her to be attractive, normal, and a tad low on self-esteem. Aren't we all like that? Can't we relate to Katie as if she were a friend, someone just like us?

In "Anything You Can Do" (ebook and coming in print this month!), Allison sparks Jeff's interest. Again, he's attracted to her good looks, but her challenge keeps him intrigued. Is she beautiful? Maybe to him, but not as a beauty queen. 

Again, I didn't "write" Allison to be anything but "the girl next door". An average, hard-working woman who entices and interests Jeff without being a size two model or celebrity. (Cover is for new print version)

When you read, do you envision the heroine as a beautiful woman? Does a Hollywood image of what beauty looks like plant itself in your head? 

Sex appeal comes in many features; eyes, lips, smile, etc. But overall beauty does not necessarily need be the image portrayed in a romance book. The more appealing, day-to-day heroine, attractive but flawed like the rest of us, captures our attention. 

Beauty is's what's inside our heroines that keeps a romance book desirable and read.

Can you describe beauty? As a reader, do you want beautiful heroines? As a writer, are your heroines beautiful?

Photo: Flickr: Kevin H. photostream 


  1. Dear Marianne,

    I agree that a heroine need not be beautiful on the outside to be a beautiful woman, and I applaud your achievement in bringing a non-traditional MC into the spotlight. Thankfully, there are now publishers who now appeal to authors to submit novels of Rubenesque women, older women, physicaly challenged women, and so on. I will shortly be writing a book about a "litte person" in love with a man in a wheelchair. Their story, I think, is as important as that between two improbably perfect people.

  2. Marianne, your posting hit a juicy target. It would be easy to say as a writer that it's outward beauty that attracts the male characters to my heroines. But, who am I kidding, after you get beneath that soft skin and perfumed sexiness of my lead female characters; she's got to have something going on behind the eyes.

    And, I don't just mean she's an intelligent woman. But, more important to me as a writer and as a reader, the heroine has to have grit and the scars from living. Scars seen and unseen are the most intriguing element to my characters, especially my female ones.

    Humans are of flesh and blood, sin and redemption. As a novelist, I can place a few stats about the character onto the page (i.e. - hair color, eye color, accent, physical girth...etc.). But, even with that, it takes a person's imagination to wonder exactly what each character looks like in my books.

    My heroines have to have enough wit and charm to catch the eye of the hero or male character. But, these ladies sure as hell better have the stamina to make it through the storms of scenarios and storylines that I have to unfold on the pages of my novels.

    I mean, who wants a whiny, wimpy woman, who crumbles at the first rough wind of conflict. She's gotta be a fighter, even in pink stilettos and cotton candy lace lingerie.

    Physical beauty is elusive in reality. Yet, in writing a novel, the women can be glamorous and the men can be debonair. Then again, I've always believed that in fiction, it's nice to just unplug from the day to day drudge of life and go to fields of pleasure.

    Of course, not every writer will go the fanciful way of making the heroine a girly-girl. But, hey, girly-girls aren't all stick figures. Or, even looking for Mr. Right. It could be just looking for the right one - no matter what sexual preference.

    I think to each her/his own. You've got to be comfortable in writing and reading what you wish.

    Not every flower in the garden is the blossoming rose, that is adored. Some are just the shrubs and weeds that survive by their mighty will.

    Beauty is imperfection.
    Imperfection is beauty.

    A.H. Scott


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