Okay so we think Demon and immediately an image of a large bulky red skinned creature with frightening features, huge bat like wings, forked tail and sharp claws comes to mind. Well for most people that would be the general image. As a writer, I find it quite a challenge to take something familiar, as the description above, and turn it into a sexy, mouth-watering hunk-a-licous hero. First off, I know I need to stick with what is familiar to most readers. Thanks to the media, movies, literature, art etc..., readers have a general idea of what a supernatural creature should look and sound like.
Taking the "stereotypical look" into consideration is certainly a must. When some one buys a book, the characters need to represent several traits that he or she can relate to. But how does a reader relate to a demon? Good question. I'm about to try to answer that.
One way is to create an alternate physical appearance. For example, Authors who write shape-shifter novels already know that the "shape-shifting hero" will be, in most cases, drop dead, heart thumping gorgeous. Even more important, in their "human" persona, they will most likely have personality traits that are relatable to the reader and more likely than not, likable. For me I tend to write heros who are both sexy and smart with a bit of dark humor. It fits in with my image of the "Beast" aspect of their nature.
Relatable heros/heroines the reader can relate to, makes it easier for them to accept the "bestial nature" of the characters.
However, what happens to a character that doesn't have the capability to shape shift and remains in their "supernatural form", yet falls in love with the average human. Certainly it will raise a few eyebrows if the creature is very non-human looking. I recently read a book, Zoot by Chaz Thompson, (which I recommend for any aspiring author of fantasy/sci-fi erotica), in which the hero is actually a God like creature, humaniod-like, yet to every one he comes in contact with he appears to them as their version of the perfect physical male in what-ever species they're from. I love this twist. Still I prefer to write, primarily demons, how I picture them to be.
In many works I have written, whether for contests, submission or just as a story for a family member or friends, the Demon hero has the "basic" characteristics, one would find on the hollywood screen, horns, bat-wings, sharp angular face... It is what I add to those features that makes them appealing. Whether it be a set of beautiful emerald green eyes, full sensuous lips or a proud straight nose with flaring nostrils, perfectly proportioned on a ruggedly otherworldly expressive face, it gives the character, otherwise terrifying to behold, a more personal, likable image. Notice I haven't changed the fact that his/her features are definitely demonic, instead I have picked certain aspects that the HEA would find appealing, hence letting the reader see through her/his eyes. I do this with every aspect of the physical appearance, careful not to change the basic persona of what a Demon looks like in peoples minds.
The hard part is personality. The best way, I find at least for me, is to give my Demon character a mixture of dark nature and compassionate emotion that is almost innocent in his/her expression of it. For example take the following excerpt:
Lorgan watched the frail creature cower before him. His first inclination was to squash her with his hoofed feet. Yet he paused. Something about the way her body bent forward, so thin, so small, the way her tiny hands clasped in front of her small womanly breasts, shaking, halted him. The pert nipples poking through the thin linen material of her chemise, brought other thoughts to his mind. He tilted his head to the side considering her a moment. A strange sensation settled in side his heavily muscled chest. The girl squealed as his large crimson hand wrapped around her arm, and careful not to stab her tender pale flesh with his sharp claws, he hauled her up.
See, my hero Lorgan is still a bad ass, yet there is a hint of compassion for the young woman he just captured...Hmmm may be the start of a new tale....wheels working...Uh-oh watch out. The best way to make likable characters in any genre, is to give them great dialogue and descriptive POV with internal insight into who they are. Give them feelings and fears and most importantly, let them grow like children with every line, paragraph and every revision. Use a character chart if you have too, but remember always give them the same layers of complexity that makes us human.
Well, Best of luck to all you aspiring authors!
Don't forget to check out the new workshop listed in http://www.tabithablakesnocturnalnights.com/ under contests etc.. Lots of good stuff there.