The Real YA Guys: What Fictional Guys Could Learn From Real Life

Posted June 2, 2017 by Wren in Have I Gone Mad? // Discussions, Uncategorized / 8 Comments

I was recently read a book (I’m not naming names) in which the male love interest was…how to put it nicely…impossible. He was kind and caring and nerdy and basically the perfect guy. Which is a problem because there is no such thing as a perfect guy.
And it made me realize “Hey, YA boys are quite unlike real teen guys.”

I know a lot of teen guys. My friends in ninth grade were mostly teen guys. (It was a fun year.) The thing about teen guys is that they are perverted and strange and make corny jokes. And this isn’t just limited to teen guys. Even adult guys can be awkward and perverted.
You can’t make a perfect guy. No matter how many times you try. People have flaws. That’s what makes them human. Making a character who is complex includes adding in flaws and quirks. It makes them real.
I don’t want to read about another Mr. Perfect with lustrous hair, long eyelashes, rock hard abs, a face unmarred by acne, intellect unlike no other, a voice like smooth chocolate, and the sportsmanship of all of the Olympic gold medalists combined. People like that don’t exist. We all have skeletons in our closet, whether it’s depression or family troubles or money problems. Or even the small things such as a fear of rats or a penchant for stuffed toys.

To all the writers in the world who are about to make another Mr. Perfect, here’s a list of things that I know real teen guys do. These aren’t all the things that they do (I don’t think anyone can sum up a large portion of the population with a few attributes) but some ideas to make your characters real.

1) Make perverted jokes (And most of them aren’t even funny)
And, yes, they do go “Ohhhhhhh” after one has been made. It’s annoying, but I do admit that I’ve participated in a few of these jokes. Hormones aren’t kind.

2) Have unrequited crushes
I know guys who have pined after people (Both girl and guy) for weeks. And nothing has happened. I know one guy in particular who has had so many crushes, and so many near misses. He’s an awesome person, but he can’t ever seem to get his timing right.

3) Tease each other
I’ve seen more than one bromance based on pranking each other. It might be kinda strange to an outsider, but that might be how they joke. And tease might also include stealing their stuff. (Which is so strange.)

4) Care about things other than girls
There are guys who like space and math and band. They exist. I know at least one guy for each of those likes, maybe two or more. They have their passions and interests. Girls aren’t the only thing they care about.

I hope this list has helped some of you budding writers out there to make your male characters more complex. What is another possible trait I missed? Do you have any stories about teen guys who do these things?

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8 responses to “The Real YA Guys: What Fictional Guys Could Learn From Real Life

  1. That is so true! I kinda dislikes if a male character in a book way too perfect because none of that things exist. That is why I dont really like romance book that much, the perfect was just so overwritten. haha.

    Nice post!

  2. It really is such a good point- none of us is perfect. And definitely NOT a teenage guy hahah. Like I get that authors want the reader to swoon over the guy and ship the couple and such, but I feel like I enjoy a couple more when they seem human, not like weirdly perfect caricatures. This is a great post!

  3. This is such a fascinating post Wren! I laugh about the awkward jokes because I remember making them along with my guy friends in high school. Yes there’s so many crushes too and I definitely think this should be explored more in YA!

  4. PREACH… PREACH…. PREAACH!

    I once saw a quote this bookish twitter account posted and it said : Boys in books are just much better (something along the lines of that). And I thought, maybe it’s because they don’t have any flaws?!

    I try to make boys in my stories as realistic as possible (I never write romance so that might be the reason, lol).

    And there ought to be more unrequited crushes in YA… no harm with exposing the truth that happens in real life xD

  5. HAH THIS. Totally agree with what you’ve said here. I just read a book which was pretty much what you mentioned at the beginning (I wonder if it was the same book ahaha) and it gets a bit tiring and annoying after a point. And creates so many unrealistic expectations. Meh. We so need more fictional guys who are realistic.

  6. Ugh, I sort of hate the trope where teenage boys in YA are Beautiful And Perfect And Existing Only To Sweep The Main Character Off Her Feet. It’s a feminism thing too, I think – when we reduce guys to these kinds of stereotypical sex objects, we harm both societal perceptions of women & men. I firmly believe that books are the most beautiful place to start breaking down those barriers & introducing boys who are weird & inappropriate & sometimes cringe-worthy but only the more lovable for it. <3

    Topaz (Six Impossible Things)

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