Thursday, October 29, 2015


 Thursday brings us answers to another question submitted by you! This week’s winner is Mary Shipman. She submitted a rather provocative question. She asks: “Why don't authors use, plain looking ordinary folk as main characters? I would like to see a short, chubby heroine and a guy without a lot of muscles be the 'winner' sometimes.”

For submitting her question, Mary’s won a $10.00 gift card for Amazon!

If you have a question for us, leave it below. You might be our next winner! You could win a book by one of today’s top suspense/mystery writers – or a gift certificate to Amazon! (Questions submitted without contact information won’t be considered.)

I know what you mean, Mary. My current hero is a bit of a geek, and my next heroine is a quirky little cork-screw blonde. Definitely not the magazine cover type. I think the most important thing about them is that they are attracted to their respective matches as much by what's inside as they are to what's on the outside!

Marji Laine

Oh amen to that! My first ever series featured a 40 something year old slightly chubby widow. I loved her! I think we fall into that
"romancy" type belief that our characters have to be young and model types. Sheesh!

 Dana Mentink

Richard Mabry

Mary, that’s a great question, and I really don’t have a good answer off the top of my head. I suppose that readers would rather identify with someone who has nol external flaws, as part of the “escape” they get from reading. All authors realize that a protagonist must have some sort of flaw, but up to this point most of us picture those flaws as emotional or spiritual. I think I’m going to have consider featuring a hero/heroine who fights a battle against the scales and works to maintain their appearance.

Richard Mabry

I agree, Mary. Unfortunately, sometimes our publishers have guidelines we have to go by. However, I did what you suggested in
one of my books, Unbreakable. And I had a quirky main character in my cozy series, Curl Up and Dye. She wasn’t beautiful.

I think readers would like to have characters they can relate to. Hopefully, we’ll see more realistic characters in the future. Great question, by the way!

Nancy Mehl

Authors do use plain ordinary characters. I've used a "guy without a lot of muscle" -- a computer geek with glasses in Disarming Andi. I often use a trim and fit guy but that doesn't mean bulging muscles. I've used "plain janes" or heroines that aren't beautiful and exotic, etc. in my stories, too. Besides beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Elizabeth Goddard

I've often wondered the same thing myself and while I try to give
my characters some type of characteristic that keeps them from being perfect it seems my readers want to escape and they want pretty people

Cynthia Hickey


  1. Thanks to all of you for your answers.
    I really appreciated the thoughts and now I know some more about how it works.

  2. Mary, thanks for asking a thoughtful question (and one I hadn't considered). I suspect that if you came back here in a year and asked it again, some of us would have crafted a protagonist who doesn't fit the "perfect" mold.