My book is really character focused as it’s about 5 characters who become friends, deal with personal & inter-personal arcs.
One character is from a background that are heavily themed around beauty & their culture places a lot of emphasis in beauty & art (both aesthetic & “your life is a piece of art” belief system- Inspired by Nietzschien aesthetic life)
I’ve been thinking about making this society care a lot about beauty in art but also appearances. I’m interested in exploring in a sincere way what a society that heavily priorities attractiveness would look like without the usual aggressive backlash to that kind of stuff (which is sort of justified tbf)
I want this character to (possibly somewhat unconsciously) place high value on looks. But I also don’t want to make her a horrible or unlikable person. I probably will have her go through character development where she manages to be aware of the bad sides of her biases.
But I don’t just want to write a cliche “rich girl is shallow, unlikable & priories looks too much- Learns the error of her ways & comes to understand everyone’s beautiful in there own way/ she should date the guy she’s not that attracted to / ect…”
- It’s a complicated issue to do correctly
I also run into the awkward fact that nearly all characters in fiction default as attractive unless it’s plot relevant (maybe I can break out of that- but seems like it will be difficult)
I think what I mainly want to show is that she thinks about looks when meeting a new person more than normal characters do; she’s possibly more bias to prefer attractive people (like our own human biases but exaggerated slightly more for narrative?); & she’s originally very option about her opinions with how she thinks people look (mostly commenting her friends & people they meet are only average looking) -that’s mostly what I’m worried will make her disliked.
She’s also involved in an unconventional Paper Towns style “romance” subplot with another character (who has a crush on her) & they both finally end up not together (at least in Book 1) because she’s not interested in him yet cause they haven’t really gotten to know each other yet; he idealised her as his crush to much & doesn’t actually know HER; (also she’s just not in the mood for a relationship atm- 😱- cause she’s got things in her life she wants to focus on & sort out)
(Later in the series when both have gone through more development & are better rounded functioning people; they may be more suited & able to form a relationship) – & it’s not that she finds him unattractive, she just makes a off handed comment that he’s decently good lucking but she wouldn’t say he’s one of the most handsome guys she knows.
Despite all the other tricks I’m aware of writers can use to make characters likeable, what ways can I take to best Handel this idea to make her more likeable; make the arc more unique & less preachy/ cliche)
(Advice on the romance & character work would also be greatly appreciated)