Hart Johnson had a post yesterday that tied in to my last post on unbelievable characters. She gets a lot more traffic and comments than I do, naturally, which makes for a more interesting discussion between commenters.
The question that arose in my mind while reading through all the comments was this -- do most readers want flaws in protagonists but still insist that they be physically beautiful? (I mean this mainly for commercial fiction, as I imagine literary fiction can get away with a lot more) Can we get away with ugly main characters, or does that turn readers off? I probably went overboard in my book by having extremely flawed characters, and rarely a pretty face to be seen, but that is what I see in real life, and I enjoy authenticity in what I read.
So, I wonder what the average book reading audience really desires. I may want realism, but perhaps they care more about superficial beauty and wanting only slightly flawed heroes? I'm not sure that we, being writers, can answer these questions. At the very least, I expect if any of our books ever got optioned for film, Hollywood would change our ugly characters to pretty ones!