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Describing attractive men
Posted: Monday, August 3, 2015 3:45 PM
Joined: 4/24/2014
Posts: 29

Hi all,

I'm a mystery writer, and in my second book in the Glass Bead Mystery Series "A Bead in the Hand" I've got a couple of male characters that are attractive. One is a romantic interest of the protagonist, the other is part of a sub-plot.  Describing attractive men is not in my wheel-house so I thought I'd check in here with the romance writers and see if anyone can help me describe these men as more than just "handsome" or "hunky", or if someone can point me toward a good resource, like a web site.  "A Bead in the Hand" is in the MS area of Book Country, if you want to take a look I can point you toward my currently lame descriptions.



Posted: Monday, August 3, 2015 5:47 PM
Joined: 3/13/2014
Posts: 27

I just take what I think is attractive and write about it. Like: He had hair the color of cinnamon and eyes as green as an emerald. I wanted to wrap my arms around his slim waist and rest my worried mind upon his broad shoulders. What attracted me most was his kind heart.

You see where I'm going?     

Emma Burnside
Posted: Monday, August 3, 2015 7:14 PM
Joined: 3/4/2015
Posts: 11

For a mystery novel, I'd avoid going too over-the-top with descriptions, and I'd keep with imagery that's a bit darker and mysterious, especially if the character is a suspect.  A lot depends on the type of mystery, though.  A cozy is different from a hard-boiled, obviously, and the language should match.  A romantic mystery or suspense can be a little more florid in its descriptions.  My suggestion is to look at some of the writers you admire and who are writing in the same vein.  How do they handle descriptions?  How much detail do they go into and how much do they leave to the reader's imagination?  How do the descriptive words sound when you speak them?  Softer words convey a different visual than ones with harsher sounds, and if you want ruggedly handsome you don't want your words to come across as too soft.


Here's a sample of a good description of a handsome character from a mystery series.  It is the author's description of Archie Goodwin, Man Friday to detective Nero Wolfe.  It never appears in any book, since Archie is the narrator, but Rex Stout had it written down for his own reference.  It goes beyond the static physical to the way the character moves, both in small motions and in his overall posture:


Hair is light rather than dark, but just barely decided not to be red; he gets it cut every two weeks, rather short, and brushes it straight back, but it keeps standing up. He shaves four times a week and grasps at every excuse to make it only three times. His features are all regular, well-modeled and well-proportioned, except the nose. He escapes the curse of being the movie actor type only through the nose. It is not a true pug and is by no means a deformity, but it is a little short and the ridge is broad, and the tip has continued on its own, beyond the cartilage, giving the impression of startling and quite independent initiative. The eyes are grey, and are inquisitive and quick to move. He is muscular both in appearance and in movement, and upright in posture, but his shoulders stoop a little in unconscious reaction to Wolfe's repeated criticism that he is too self-assertive.

Posted: Monday, August 3, 2015 9:05 PM
Joined: 9/17/2013
Posts: 104

Attractive is in the eye of the beholder. So I would describe an attractive man on how he is received by the beholder




Jack worked in our office longer than anyone else. He had threatened to retire for so long that we didn’t take him seriously anymore, and then he did it. He was leaving us for his country home, where he would go fly fishing for trout, and train hunting dogs, and train horses to pull carts and sleighs. We had a reception for him in our conference room on his last afternoon, just the eleven of us, with a sheet cake and fruit punch, and funny speeches and goodbyes. 


A man named Paul Erickson was picked to transfer from another division to replace Jack. We didn’t know him. After the speeches, Paul came in to the room. He was tall and spare and blond, a credit to his Viking ancestors.  He moved like an athlete. He came because he knew Jack. They had met on some trout stream somewhere. He wore brown polished shoes and sharply creased pewter dress slacks, with a crisp cotton button down shirt with narrow cranberry and white alternating stripes. His dark blue tie worked with the outfit. Paul’s tie was loosened, and the top button of his shirt was open. His cuffs were turned up twice from his wrists. He has a small scar on his forearm, the kind you’d get in a minor accident paddling a canoe across the lakes of Ontario. Paul’s scar accented a deep tan. His hair was a little long, and a strand hung down onto his forehead. After talking to Jack, Paul went around the room to meet each of us. I was wearing my one inch cream heels, and I wished I’d worn the two inch red ones. I wished I’d worn my white blouse, which I’d considered before putting on a blue one. When he spoke to each of us, he was relaxed and smiled and held his hands out in front of him, in an open gesture. Paul has green eyes with gold flecks.  I wanted to step between his hands and adjust his tie just a little, and so did all the other women in the room. 


Posted: Tuesday, August 4, 2015 8:06 PM
Joined: 4/24/2014
Posts: 29

Thanks all...this is helpful!

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