I wouldn’t mind the latter, personally… I know how terrible my memory is with names, half the time I forget what my own characters are called!
People watching. One of my favorite pastimes. If you live in a small town where you know everyone, this won’t work well, so plan a trip to a larger town, sit down in a crowded area and just people-watch. Bring a pen and paper with you.
When someone catches your eye, observe their mannerisms: how they walk, how they talk, how they’re dressed, etc. Jot down your observations and give them a made-up name. Think about what their hobbies might be. What do they do for a living? What are their hopes and dreams? What are their fears? What flaws do they have? What inspires them? Give them a backstory. Give them some odd or funny or interesting quirks.
A compelling character is:
- Sympathetic (different from likable)
- Nuanced (they have layers)
- Flawed (they’re not perfect)
- Active (they go after what they want)
A compelling character generally has a want, something they think they need, and something they actually need. The narrative usually drives a character to act upon what they want and what they think they need, and the character development happens when they discover what it is they actually need, choosing to go after that instead.
Wants are things a character desires but doesn’t need, like craving ice cream on a hot day.
Needs are things that a character wants in order to feel fulfilled, like avoiding sadness.
Actual needs are things that a character needs in order to learn and grow, like learning that the constant avoidance of sadness is keeping them from experiencing actual real joy in life. Bonus points for learning that sadness can actually help joy flourish in bittersweet moments.
Props to those who guessed which movie this example is from.
Personally, I’ve seen a bit of scoffing at the idea of gender interchangeable ROs but I think I agree with others when they say that if the character is interesting and compelling enough, does their gender change anything? Physical attraction, sure, but personality-wise? I don’t think it does. I’d be attracted to the same personality regardless of which gender they inhabited.
I’m hesitant to say anything for fear of being accused of perpetuating stereotypes, but are you actually asking what women might find physically attractive in a male RO? Or emotionally attractive? Or both? Using that physical and emotional attraction to enhance your story?
As a woman attracted to men (and women), I can help there. But, I’m only a sample size of one. For me, my attraction to men is harder and my attraction to women is softer, if that makes any sense. I’m not sure if I understand it myself.
My emotional attraction to men is probably pretty stereotypical. The entire Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus kind of thing. If there’s anything weird or unacceptable about the author of that book, I have no knowledge of it.
I have found, in my lifetime, that, generally, women seek validation from their male partners, while men seek acceptance from their female partners. “Men are motivated when they feel needed while women are motivated when they feel cherished.” ~a quote from that book
Maybe we can do an exercise here:
How would you write an intro scene for a dreamy female RO that your male MC would fantasize about? I could respond with a dreamy male RO intro scene that my female MC would fantasize about?
No idea if that’s a helpful exercise, just an idea that popped into my head. I’m just a hobby writer, so take everything I’ve said with a grain of salt.
I want to write my own ChoiceScript game, too, but I’m shit when it comes to plot. Characters and dialogue, however, I love writing for and could write 100 tiny scenes with them that have no connective overarching theme. Anthologies became archaic decades ago. Funny that World War Z tried to bring them back. Good book. Bad movie if you’ve read the book.
Tell me you’ve never been chained to a spouse and/or spouse with a toddler without telling me you’ve never been chained to a spouse or spouse with a toddler. Da fuq? Romance is cleaning up the dishes you personally dirtied, not getting groceries from the month-long list your spouse made because you couldn’t be bothered to do any of the mental load work.
Sorry, I don’t mean to berate. But ‘getting the groceries’ is the least romantic thing my partner could ever do for me. He literally takes two hours to get two gallons of milk. I know why. He’s wandering the store. But I only have 8 oz. of milk left at home. Would be nice if he came back with some more so I can avoid another toddler tantrum! Would be more romantic, at least.
EDIT: Apologies for coming across harshly. Clearly, I have some personal issues to work on. Sometimes domestic relations have these tiny things that start building into bigger things and I question whether or not they should be addressed or if me being bothered by them is just a personal failing.
Aha! So I’m not alone in the world, then.
YES! And wiping your damned feet–and the dog’s feet–before you come inside so you don’t track dirt and leaves all over the floor (which I just vacuumed and mopped, btw). Actually doing those things make me smile, because it takes some of the load off of me.
Same here, because he’s incapable of going to the grocery store with a detailed list and not calling at least once to ask if “this” is what I wanted. No, I put it on the list because I wanted to fuck with your head. And the response I get to my sarcasm is, “I wasn’t looking at the list…” Why’d I write it, then?
Another actual “romance in our daily lives” thing is having your partner notice you’re having a shit day and volunteering to take care of dinner before you do the “let’s just order out” thing. And you washing the twenty new t-shirts he bought because you had pointed out his had numerous holes forming in them (well, I mean, part of that is that I’m afraid he’ll break the washer, but I’m still being nice!).
You are not alone.
Part of it is that I’m not the type to go for the typical romance crap. If my husband brought me flowers, I’d assume he is out to get me (I’m allergic to most of them, and he knows it). I’d much rather get takeout than go to most restaurants (there are exceptions), because I don’t dig crowds (he hates crowds even more than I do). Movies? Same thing. Why go to a noisy theater when I have a sound system that can knock the walls down? I can wait until they can be streamed (like waiting for John Wick 4 until yesterday!). I don’t want jewelry… I want weapons or electronics. Anyway…
My point is that it’s the little things that count. Of course, like you pointed out, the little things that are annoying can start building up after a while, too, mainly when the rest of life is stressful. People are moody creatures. You have to learn what hills you want to die on and which ones you just shrug off. And if that doesn’t work, buy a punching bag and beat the hell out of it. Then you’re too tired to be annoyed, lol.