I’m not the type of person who throws a book, ever, but this sort of bull sorely tempts me. It’s boring, aggravating, offensive, and shows a lack of imagination. It makes me angry because I want so badly for there to be more to these characters. So badly that I’ve narrowed down the main aspects that denote statue characters in an effort to help other writers (we writers tend to have blind spots when it comes to our own work).
Excessive Beauty: Whether it’s a strikingly handsome guy or a stunning woman, it boils down to the same thing. The reader is presented with a character who’s fiercely desirable because of the aesthetic they present. Possibly the strangest part of this concept is that these paragons of beauty are universally appealing. The ideas that different people have different ideas of what makes somebody else attractive, or that force of personality can soften unkind features into something more appealing, fall away entirely.
When statues have opinions: This can go a variety of ways and all of them are bad (which is why this doesn’t have a more accurate heading). You’ll read handsome men speaking intelligently about problems and issues to come to the obvious, logical conclusion while a female character gawks at them and then proceeds to do something stupid and immature (begging the question of who exactly is being objectified? Or perhaps why men are objectified as smart and attractive while their female counterparts are appealing morons).
There are also the cases where people are so busy adoring a female character that they barely hear what she has to say, or automatically undercut anything valuable she says because it’s assumed that female beauty accompanies stupidity. Which brings us to the worst of all statue opinions, those that are shallow and ignorant because they’re uttered by people who’ve lived sheltered lives because of their attractiveness.
Their role in the story is empty: They exist only as a love interest. This often works in tandem with the character needing to be saved but there are exceptions where the objectified character needs to be saved because they’re beautiful and helpless. You also get this thing where the person who delivers the life changing prophecy, message from the gods, etc. has to be an amazingly beautiful being so that they get any attention at all from the people they’re trying to save.
Who is your character if you strip away their appearance? Would the other characters still care about them? Would the reader still care about them? Can they do everything the plot requires of them if they’re a hairy, smelly yeti?
Do they have a strong enough role in the story? Would the main characters have sufficient motivation if this person didn’t exist? If they’re essential to the plot, then what personality traits or skills make them indispensable? Could I replace them with an aromantic, asexual hobbit and still achieve the same purpose?
The important thing to remember is that this is an insidious concept. If it comes up at all then it likely effects all the characters in your book since they are the ones sustaining this viewpoint throughout.
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Read another vaguely snarky discussion on creative writing here: Book Characters with No Sense of Self-preservation: How Have You Lived This Long?