Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Lovable Hero

My WIP is off and running. I've written 2 chapters to my satisfaction, and I'm flying on the third. So far, the ideas are in good supply, and I can't wait to skip from one encounter to the next, knowing I've got a fairly meaty story to help me along.

But having a good plot depends on having great characters, and keeping these characters great is vitally important. If the hero or heroine say or do something that isn't 'lovable', then the writer risks alienating her readers.

This is something which I've been aware of for some time, but though I try my best to make my hero and heroine lovable, sometimes I write them in a less than flattering light. And since this is not always easy to ascertain, from a writing point of view, that's when critique partners become an invaluable part of the writing process. I say this, because when I showed my latest chapter (Ch 2) to AbFab, she said my hero was behaving in a way that made it hard for her to like him.

When I studied the scene, I too could see what she was talking about. I had decided to divulge some information that my heroine was unaware of, but when I made the hero impart this news, it painted him in a rather unattractive light. AbFab pointed this out, and at first I had the usual reaction to rewriting the scene. Not happy. Luckily, it usually takes me all of about two minutes to get over myself. When I thought about the problem, I decided the information my heroine was getting directly from the hero really wasn't great news, and it would be best if she found out through another - minor - character. That way she could feel all the same indignation, but it wouldn't be aimed directly at the hero... not yet, anyway.

Of course, there are going to be mitigating circumstances and of course, lots of emotional conflict. It's a romance, after all, and the hero and heroine will have a chance to discover each other's flaws as well as strengths through the course of the novel. They will also have enough opportunities to uncover the truth about each other. Though the beginning of the novel is the time to complicate things, everyone knows it will all end in smiles and big love-hearts. And through it all, no matter what, the hero has to stay lovable.

All this made me muse about lovable heroes. It's a fascinating subject, as one woman's cad can sometimes be another's cup of tea. Currently, I'm reading a romance where I find the hero extremely unattractive. I'm having trouble getting through the book, but I must. I am a student of romance, and I want to see how this very experienced author ties up all the loose ends and justifies the protagonists' misconceptions. There is a fair amount of 'misunderstanding' in this story, and at the half-way mark, the hero is coming across as a brutish, unfeeling bastard who's only interested in one thing - getting the heroine into bed. I'm sure there would be many readers who would be titillated by the hero's behaviour, seeing it as a display of attractive masculinity, but I have to say in very loud words: IT DOES NOTHING FOR ME.

My heroes are definitely tender alpha males. That preference is demonstrated in the kind of man I chose for myself. And the heroes I find attractive in books and films. There are so many wonderful heroes I can think of that to mention them fleetingly in this post wouldn't do them justice. Stay tuned for a more comprehensive list...


Lisa66 said...

I love the picture! totally cracked me up!!!

ellen said...

Nice to see _someone_ is blogging! Way to go, girl.

BTW, I have been having the opposite problem with my WIP - readers love the hero but are not too into the heroine. I am working on this in my rewrite.