If you've been following this month's Honest Thoughts posts you may have caught my thoughts on fictional romance, happy endings, and last week's tribute to The Heroine. It's only fair that I spend equal time on The Hero.
I've got to be fair and admit right here and now that writing my male characters is my favorite thing! And reading a great male character makes me *super* happy. I'm not going to say I've got it down, just that I enjoy it. And, when I'm creating "my guys" (as I affectionately call them) these are some of the things I think through...
Um, yeah, of course he'll be manly. He's a man. If you thought this, I don't blame you, but it's one of my biggest pet peeves. Newsflash: men are not women. *Gasp!* I struggle when I'm reading a book where the man thinks or reasons like a woman. Sorry, but that's just not how they (men) work. I think the challenge here, if you're a woman writer, is you're not a guy. That inherently mean's writing the male POV (point of view) will be more difficult. It will require research, men reading/critiquing your work, and truly getting out of your female perspective. But it's oh-so-worth-it because your readers will get a look into his brain and his heart.
I'm not saying he can't have feelings or emotions or that he can't think through things, but consider the context. I love what Ronie Kendig says about this in one of the classes I took from her titled "He giggled?" She points out that, while in the middle of a fire-fight (or some other high-octane situation) a guy won't turn to his girl and look at her through lovey-dovey eyes, kiss her and tell her how much he cares for her. No way! He'll be doing everything he possibly can to rescue her! I know it's tempting to put in those moments because they make us ladies go "awe" but there are better times and places for that and they would be more true to a man's nature.
Give him flaws
Just like with the ladies, our gentlemen need to have flaws. This is pretty standard with any character, but I think it's the type of flaws that matter. I love what Susan May Warren says in her book, Kiss and Tell: How to write a Brilliant Romance*. She explains that every man's flaw is tied to a fear that they have. Once you know that fear, you find the flaw(s) that springs from that. Have you thought this through? Readers will be able to tell when a man has a weak flaw or no flaw at all. Our flaws are what make us human and what make characters easier to relate to! (tweet this)
*P.S. Her book is seriously fantastic and you should really go check it out...
My, oh my how I love a swoon-worthy hero! You know the one I'm talking about. Maybe he's sullen, or hilarious, or tough, or broken but trying not to be. Whatever he is, there are a few things that I think are distinctly "swoon-worthy":
- He's funny: Not every hero will have a sense of humor, but sometimes it's just right.
- He's relentless: Um, why do we love Mr. Darcy? Because he kept coming back!
- He's got honor at heart: He's not a coward, nor will he run from a fight.
- He's protective: Mmmm, one of my favorite traits of great male characters.
- He notices her: Kind of obvious, but there's nothing better than your hero really seeing your heroine.
- He cares: I love a guy who pretends he doesn't care when he does.
Your hero may not "be" all of these things, but it's highly likely that he has at least one of these traits. Which ones did I miss? (tweet the question, join the discussion)
Make sure he's strong enough to rescue her
At the end of the day, we are drawn to heroes because they are the rescuers. That doesn't mean he won't fail or make mistakes, but he will do the right thing in the end. He'll make the grand gesture because of his motivation which is usually a combination of love or caring for the heroine or other characters and a sense of duty and honor. When a male character falls short of being able to rescue your heroine, we have to wonder...why is he the hero? I'm not saying that he needs to be Rambo, and maybe his strength isn't physical but mental and/or spiritual. I just personally believe a good hero makes the HEA (happily ever after) possible because of his strength.
And no, I'm not saying that heroines can't be strong or rescue their guys! But a man is created to be protective and giving him the room to do that within a novel can be a truly beautiful thing.
There you have it, some of my thoughts and The Hero. I can't wait to introduce you all to Slate "Thorn" Hawthorn, the main character in the first book of the series I'm working on. Talk about swoon-worthy!
Now it's your turn for honest thoughts: Who are your favorite male characters? Why do you like them so much? What draws you to them?