Tuesday, December 18, 2007

An oldie but a goodie...

Well, he's not an oldie for me. Speaking hypothetically, if Richard Gere and I were to meet in a romance novel, we would make a great couple. He, the older, wiser, man-of-the-world, and me, the thirty-something (ha ha) feisty heroine.

I found so many breathtaking photos of Richard Gere that it was hard to choose only a few. I've loved him ever since he made 'An Officer And A Gentleman', and I don't quite remember if I was aware of him before that. Back in the early eighties, he wasn't the conventional leading man. His looks weren't as 'chiselled' as say, Tom Selleck, or Pierce Brosnan. But right from the start, there was an animal quality about Richard Gere that is irresistible. Plainly speaking, he's just too sexy for words. And that sex appeal was what set him apart from the other 'pretty boys' around at that time.

He could have been a one, or two-hit-wonder, but somehow, he has managed the seemingly impossible task of keeping his career sailing steadily through the unforgiving waters of Hollywood. His movies have never been acclaimed masterpieces, but starring in such landmark love stories such as 'An Officer And A Gentleman', and 'Pretty Woman', have earned him his place in cinema history.

And, just like a fine wine, he's improved with age. His hair is now silver, and his figure not as taut as it once was, but that makes him infinitely more lovable at his age. He doesn't look as if he's trying too hard to stay young, which is so attractive. Take one of his latest movies, 'Shall We Dance', where he plays the part of Susan's Sarandon's disillusioned - or just plain looking for more in life - husband. The fact that he may be lusting after J. Lo, but doesn't follow through, just makes him even more desirable. And the ending is pure romance. Every time I watch the dancing scene in the kitchen, I am totally carried away by the intimacy and wish that I was in Sarandon's place, sampling that spoonful of pasta sauce... swoon...

In fact, Richard Gere seldom plays unpleasant characters. That was why his movie 'Unfaithful', didn't quite work, for me. Here he was, a seemingly perfect husband with a good job, a great house, kid, dog. So what made Diane Lane stray??? It didn't make sense.

'Chicago' was a great example of how Richard Gere tries not to become typecast. When he came out singing and dancing, I have to admit I felt the urge to giggle, but he's so accomplished that he carried it off very well, and was a credible part of that talented cast. And given my weakness for musicals, I was bound to love him even in this unlikely role. So it's official. Richard Gere, lovable hero for all ages.

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...

Friday, December 7, 2007

Contest Epilogue

This week (or was it last week - time goes so fast), I found out that I didn't place in the competition I entered recently. Seven finalists were selected out of 61 entries, and these were sent to a Harlequin Mills&Boon editor. Still, to be in that top seven ain't bad.

But the great news is that my dear friend and critique partner, AbFab, wait for it.... WON!!!!!!

It's a fantastic achievement, and I'm thrilled for her. A step in the right direction, and no surprise, since her writing is of such obvious stand-out quality. Congratulations, friend. A well deserved accolade.