Dear Auntie Romaniac,
I’d love some advice on how to make my hero irresistible. What traits make you as a writer and a reader fall in love with heroes and how do you translate that on the page?
Lucie: Hi Laura, this is a fab question. For me, both as a writer and a reader, I need my hero to be real. I don’t want him to be this perfect example of what men should be – because that isn’t real, it isn’t identifiable. He needs to have flaws. Not massive, oh my God I can’t believe you would do that flaws, but everyday flaws that us humans have. He needs to have a journey that will make him, in my eyes, be irresistible. There’s nothing more attractive than a man who works hard and makes the most of his life. Life is hard, obstacles are put in our way to test us, so show me that in a hero and show me that he will work hard to overcome these, and I will love him! I don’t want a ‘perfect’ man – what is that, anyway? Yes, good looks, humour and the like are great qualities to have, but you must get the personality and rawness of his character there, too. As for translating it on the page, I would just say write it real. Don’t sugar coat things or skip over it, tell it how it is and indulge in him. We all love a bit of indulgence 🙂
Jan: I like my hero to be caring, respectful, strong enough to take decisive action when needed yet not too proud to reveal his innermost concerns, even if only to me. Someone with a great sense of humour who can take a joke at his own expense too. Protective, loyal, well-mannered, hardworking, self-assured enough to stand by his beliefs. Someone who would ‘have my back’ in public even if in private he was miffed with me! I suppose as far as translating these things onto the page goes, I would take each character trait and create a scenario that showed both sides of it. With ‘caring’ for instance, I’d have him show that side of himself to the heroine or to sub-characters but, equally, show it in the way people speak of him to others; their love or regard for him as a person. Of course, as Lucie says above, a good-looking hero always ups the temperature, but it’s the inner qualities, I believe, that make him more credible and irresistible. Sigh …
Sue: Yes, to all of the above. I like my heroes to be real in the sense that they are not perfect. There needs to be something in his character that challenges the heroine, a side that will appeal to readers, so that the reader is rooting for him too, despite any flaws he may have. I think the trick is to remember that the hero has two love interests in the novel; that of the heroine and that of the reader.
4 thoughts on “Dear Auntie Romaniac… My Hero Needs Help!”
Morning all! I couldn’t agree more with your comments above, especially the bit about a hero needing to go on a journey throughout the book (life journey obviously, not day trip to Blackpool). I notice that my heroes have another quality too in that I tend to make them mentors to my heroine, guiding her in her own journey, wanting her to be the best that she can be. That quality of wisdom really does it for me. And bulging biceps, obviously. Mainly I just base my heroes on my husband… or that’s what I tell him anyway. x
I love the idea of making the hero the heroine’s mentor, Sarah. It’s certainly given me food for thought. Thanks. Laura 🙂 x
Interesting post. At the RONAS I met a journo who asked me what kind of heroes I wrote about. From her tone and expression I guessed that she was attracted to love rats (!) and the conversation I had with her supported that hunch. She told me that I should write a cautionary tale about men who are bastards (ouch) to warn young women to be on the look out for them! Well, I won’t be doing that – but I hope my readers find something in my fictional heroes: Ruairi, Ffinch and Brodie which will make them fall in love with them, too. My latest hero (Brodie) is a bit of a risk, as he is American (of Scottish descent) and has auburn hair. If you don’t like either of those attributes, look away now.
Sounds my kind of hero, Lizzie – the American with auburn hair, not the love rat 🙂 Laura.