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?