Thursday, October 15, 2015

OMFG Y R U SO HAWT??!!!!!!!!11111 - How to Create a Fangirl Magnet

Fangirl magnet characters are good: The creator gets more money,
the fangirls get someone to squeal over and everybody's happy.

Many art genres feature characters. And it often happens that one particular male character becomes extremely popular with the female part of the audience. Some characters are made to be such fangirl magnets and actually succeed (e.g. Sasuke Uchiha from Naruto), some characters are meant to be disliked by the audience, and yet many female readers still fall in love with them (e.g. Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter), and finally, some characters are meant to be total fangirl magnets and totally fail (e.g. Derek from RE: Alistair ++).

Being a fangirl of many fictional guys myself, I can't help but wonder why I like these characters so much. And as a writer I think I should know how to manipulate my female readers into nosebleeding and drooling over some of my characters, because ... Well, for example, there are only few things as awkward as characters who have many fangirls in their respective story but who are extremely unpopular with actual girls. Another reason is that fangirl magnets make your artwork more popular and ensure you a solid fanbase. - And yes, it's a capitalistic marketing trick, but in the end everyone profits by it: The creator gets more money, the fangirls get someone to squeal over and everybody's happy.

So let's be honest with ourselves and admit that fangirling is good. Let's also admit that the question what makes a fangirl magnet a fangirl magnet is a complicated one, since good looks aren't enough. And of course every fangirl fangirls over a very individual set of fictional guys. While some fangirl over Legolas (The Lord of the Rings) and Sasuke Uchiha (Naruto) I'm totally neutral towards Legolas and absolutely hate, hate, hate Sasuke. And while many hate Ratonhnhaké:ton a.k.a. Connor Kenway (Assassin's Creed III) he's my definition of an ideal man.

Personally I doubt there's a formula working for all potential fangirls. Yet there is a set of features which many fangirl magnets have in common. I don't think that any fangirl magnet has all of them, but every fangirl magnet has some of them. So let me break down the features of which I believe that they make a male character attractive to a female audience.

Good Looks


Most fangirl magnets are handsome. Women like to look at beautiful men. Do I need say more? ;)

Maybe I should mention why good looks shouldn't be overestimated: Let's be honest again, good looks and sexiness aren't the same thing. There are a lot of young women fangirling over defaced characters and/or characters who never show their face. And there's also the problem that every girl has her own definition of "good looks". Personally I don't always need an athletic physique, since chubby guys as well as short and slender ones can be incredibly cute as well.

Deep Voice


If you work with a medium that has audio: Never ever underestimate the power of a beautiful, deep voice. If you don't work with a medium that contains audio: Mention your character's beautiful, deep voice. Women love men with deep voices. With different kinds of deep voices, but the voices have to be deep. Or let me explain it this way: If you don't get turned on when Thorin Oakenshield stats singing in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey you're not a woman. Or lying. Or in denial.

Tragic Past


I don't remember where I heard this, but somewhen, somewhere a wise person stated that the path into a woman's heart leads through sympathy. One of the surest ways to make a woman like a male character is to make her feel sorry for him. Firstly, women melt away when they see the soft and vulnerable side of an otherwise strong man. Secondly, women have a protective instinct too, and they usually get emotional when it's triggered. Thirdly, many women like to fantasize about healing a man's emotional pain with the power of love.

Bad Boy


Your fangirl magnet doesn't have to be the antagonist. A "bad boy" can easily be one of the "good guys". What's important here is that he breaks rules, because guys who are always on the side of the law are predictable, and predictable is boring. In a way, a bad boy is a rebel, yet while your customary rebel breaks rules because he just follows another set of rules the "bad boy" doesn't follow any rules but his own. This is what makes him unpredictable and interesting and gives women the impression that it'll never be boring by his side. And at the same time, "taming" a "bad boy" is a very common female fantasy.

Mysteriousness


Not only being a "bad boy" makes a male character unpredictable. If possible, don't hesitate to give your fangirl magnet some mystery, because women generally like mysterious men. However, note that there are many kinds of mysteriousness. Here are just a few examples:

  • The character's motives aren't clear.
  • He has a dark secret.
  • It isn't clear if he's with the "good guys" or the "bad guys".
  • He wears a mask / a hood / anything else to cover his face.
  • He never shows emotion.

Mysteriousness makes the audience think about him more often, and at the same time it allows potential fangirls to project their fantasies onto whatever is unknown and/or hidden.

Inner Conflict


A conflict always raises the question of how it will be resolved. An inner conflict raises the question of how the character deals with it and whether he'll find salvation. It makes potential fangirls feel for the character and analyze his personality. And, similarly to the tragic past, it triggers the female protective instinct and the fantasy of the healing power of love.

Tragic Future


It works similarly to the tragic past and the inner conflict, but it makes the whole situation even more desperate. You just can't help but feel for someone who is doomed to die, lose his mind or suffer some other horrible fate. Fangirl magnets with a tragic future can be subdivided into two categories: those who are aware of their fate and remain strong and those who are doing their best, not knowing that all their efforts will be in vain. I don't know what's more emotionally engaging.

Majesticness


I'm not talking about some actual royal heritage here but about majesticness as a character trait. Often such fangirl magets are indeed of noble descent, but what's more important here is their aura. The way they speak, the way they move ... everything. There's some arrogance in them, but it feels like they have every right to consider themselves better than others. Because they are. They're intelligent, strong, proud and full of inner self-confidence. They're almost always calm and in control of the situation. Everybody respects them and accepts them as their leader. - A female fantasy. What is there else to say?

Adorkability


Honestly, who can resist the charms of a totally adorable dork? You know these incredibly sweet characters who are clumsy, awkward, absentminded or just incredibly naive and idealistic? Their cute quirk may make them appear childish and immature sometimes, but this only triggers a potential fangirl's maternal instinct: A woman wants somebody to care for - somebody who needs her, even if - or rather: especially if - he's not aware of it. - And yes, it's just another female fantasy.

Iconic Details


It isn't enough to just give your character good looks and follow one of the personality patterns mentioned above. There has to be something very iconic to this character in appearance and/or personality. An unusual hairstyle, a scar, some special behaviour, a catchphrase ... It can be anything. But there have to be some special details about this character, so his fangirls can squeal about how special he is.


These are the fangirl magnet features I can think of. Of course the average preferences of the target audience and the way the characters are presented are important as well, but they go beyond plain character creation, so I just stop here and pass the torch to you:


Do you think I forgot a fangirl magnet feature? Do you know a fangirl magnet who doesn't have any of these features? Do you know a character who has all of these qualities? Do you think it's possible to make such a list for fanboy magnets and if yes - what features should it include? Is there even such a thing as a fanboy magnet?

2 comments:

  1. im afraid youre right. now i feel totally pathetic.
    :-(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no. I don't want anyone to feel pathetic. :(
      Personally I believe that evetything about fangirling and creating fangirl magnets is great, so what's wrong?

      Delete