The Action Hero Look

on February 21, 2010 in Misc


When my friend Ann read the first draft of The Compass Master and my description of Layla’s physical appearance, she said something that threw me.

“Thank you for not describing Layla’s breasts.”

Huh? “Her breasts have nothing to do with the action,” said I, flummoxed.

I mean, it had never occurred to me that I should elaborate on the fact that Layla has a pair, although some writers of the male persuasion may disagree (to the weary frustration of their female readers). In the streamlined writing style of thrillers, any excess description slows the pacing. Hence I use only a couple sentences to describe Layla’s face and body, and whenever it’s necessary to paint what she’s wearing I stick to the basics.

But in the subtext of any action tale is the fact that heroes always look damn fine. Why? Because they are the projections of our fantasies. They are what we wish to be. Do we ever want them to show up looking like the average Joe or frumpy housewife? Hell, no. We want stunning. When gorgeous Jennifer Garner in Alias crosses a room in her skin tight cocktail dress, men’s jaws drop. When handsome James Bond walks into a casino in his exquisitely tailored Tom Ford suit, women sigh with desire.


I’m no different when it comes to living vicariously through Layla. Here’s how I describe her through the eyes of Zach, her future lover and fellow protagonist:

Setting: Frank’s place on a Panamanian island (see my October blog entry, Layla and Robinson Crusoe)

He looked up to see Layla Daltry walk out of the jungle and into the café. She was just this side of beautiful, but there was something about her face that riveted him. Her body was certainly damn fine – lean and athletic. Her shorts and sandals showed off her legs, while her sleeveless white shirt was tied up high enough to expose a small waist damp with sweat.

Stop laughing, reader. You know perfectly well that every woman wants to make an entrance like that. Switch genders in the above passage (Indiana Jones emerges from the jungle, yonder sits woman mesmerized by his manliness), and that’s what men want, too. We all want to be desired. We want to stand out from the crowd.

In everyday life I sometimes see just such a man or woman. They don’t necessarily have the best-looking faces or bodies; instead they possess a kind of flair that makes you do a double take.

There used to be a visitor to the building where I work whom I dubbed Mr. GQ. The longish cut of his hair and the cotton scarf tossed carelessly over his shoulder was enough to make me follow him down the hallway. Then there’s the very young woman who sometimes rides the same bus I take to work. She can put together a few simple items of clothing with so much style she’s always cute as a bug and as fashionable as a French model.

Am I sounding mightily superficial? Absolutely. Is appearance so important? Not in the greater scheme of things. But remember this blog is about my becoming like Layla. It’s about the world found in thrillers and action movies with – my own preference – archeological and historical mysteries. And to fit into this character and this world, I need to get more of an edge to my wardrobe and overall appearance. I also just plain want to keep breaking out of the blandness the business world keeps sticking me in.

This is why I’ve had a personal body and wardrobe makeover underway for several months now. And it’s why action fashion will be the subject of my next (and shorter) blog entry.

One Response to “The Action Hero Look”

  1. rich says:

    There is sooooo much more to attractiveness than cup size. It’s a complex thing. It’s partly style, It’s the clothing she chooses. It’s a woman’s skin or the curves that she subtly reveals or maybe her hair! It’s the total package. It could be how she walks. Maybe it’s the beuty of her hands. Hey, if she has a big bust, that is part of her looks. She doesn’t need to hide that part of her but her chest is not her whole being. That said, as a culture, we do like pretty faces but they better have something behind them or we’ll not like the character. We have names for pretty people that we can’t stand.