Saturday, June 29, 2013

How to Make the Undead Sexy in 3 Easy Steps (Guest Post by Kelsey Mills)

You! Yes, you! The one writing stories with paranormal hotties!

Or trying to.

The problem is, most of the paranormal hotties of choice are kind of, well, dead.

Vampires, zombies, ghosts…all (technically) dead.

This presents a problem, as most people aren’t attracted to the dead. As a writer of zombie fiction, I find that I have trouble making my lead female’s interest in my lead male (the zombie) not icky. He may be undead, but he’s still technically dead, and grossing people out does not help you sell a romance.

However, after careful observation I noticed a pattern. And this pattern works. I would like to share with you all today how to make your undead boys dead sexy.
  1. Make them less dead.
As covered earlier, most people find the dead kind of gross. It might be the decaying internal organs, the blank lifeless eyes or the ashen, sunken skin, but most people do not want to read about someone falling in love with the dead.

Solution? Make your undead boy more “un” than “dead”.

Pale skin is still a must, but describe the skin tone as “moonlight pale” versus “ashen” or “deathly pale”. Defined cheekbones are nice, but not sunken cheeks and really pointy chins. Even ‘drawn’ sounds like someone grabbed the back of your undead boy’s face and just pulled.

Stay away from describing internal processes unless it is absolutely necessary. Especially if you are writing a zombie.

Describing the eyes as “bright” or “sparkling” will negate any uncanny valley effect the reader might experience when imagining your lovely dead boy.

  1. Dark hair.
He has to have dark hair.

If you look closely at most leading dead men, they all have dark hair.

Oh, but Kelsey, I don’t want to play by the rules.” Okay, fine. That’s cool. But look closely at the world of the paranormal and you’ll see that the leading men all have dark hair, and the bad guys are blond.

Look at the one that started the mainstream craze, love it or loathe it- Twilight. Edward has dark hair. Some of the bad guys have dark hair. But all the blond dudes do something evil or douchey.

Look at James from the first movie, or that blond guy Cauis from the Volturi, or Riley Biers, who lies to a bunch of newborn vampires. Even the Cullen’s themselves don’t do too well when it comes to blonds. Carlisle, the patriarch of the family, turns Edward into a vampire, a life that Edward frequently describes as monstrous. Jasper attempts to munch on Bella’s tasty blood.

You can find this trope in other media featuring the undead- I’m just pointing out an accessible example. But hopefully the point is seen, because I’m in the loathe category in regards to Twilight, and I hope to never discuss it again.

  1. A little slight

Your hotty should not be too big.

Okay, some things can be big. But not his body type.

This one makes sense on a practical level as well as the sex appeal- the undead can’t or can barely eat. They’re not going to be huge, unless I’m really underestimating the fat content of blood and brains.

Werewolves can be gigantic beefcakes, but vampires, zombies…no. A little dead/decaying flesh is okay, but too much would start to smell. The slight figure gives off the impression of vulnerability, which adds depth to the sexy, sexy exterior.

This is not to say they can’t be well muscled. But the muscles should be more swimmer or gymnast rather than linebacker.

Oh Kelsey, you’re so shallow, you forgot personalities.” Nice try, writer, but I’m not telling you how to characterize your undead cream puff. While their actions should have a hint of badassery to them (for stories sake, as well as sexiness), the characters personality should be up to the writer and what they think is appropriate for the story, or even the kind of personality they find themselves attracted to. As nice as it is to have a nice body to complete the package, your undead boy’s personality is what will make the readers fall in love with them.

At least them if a reader isn’t attracted to the way you describe him (and you’ve made him blond, don’t say I didn’t warn you) then at least he has a great personality. 

Join Kelsey Mills starting June 28th for her serial zombie fiction, The Zombvenger! Visit to read the first installment. 

No comments: