What’s in a Hero?
It’s probably not surprising that this topic comes up when romance authors get together. Some people like the classic alpha hero, the dominant, take-charge guy. Others like their heroes more beta: the nice guy.
There’s also, supposedly, the gamma hero, a combination of the other two, controlling but sensitive. Hmm. I’d argue that an alpha guy without a sensitive side is not an alpha hero but an alphahole. I personally think a well-developed character is more complicated than a label.
My List of Hero Qualities
Personal Honor: the hero has a code he lives by. The rules may vary, depending on the hero’s choice of work (spy vs. man of God for example), and depending on his personal wounds. And every good hero has a wound that only the heroine can help heal.
Respect for the woman he loves: even if he doesn’t yet know he respects and loves her. Plus, he’d never hit a woman, a small child, or an animal. But he might kill a bad guy in defense of them.
He has a goal and a mission and he gets the job done: he’s not stretched on the sofa watching daytime TV and living on the dole.
He doesn’t stink: or if he does it’s because he was working hard or, in the case of my Regency guys, spending the day on horseback escorting the heroine hither or yon.
He’s virile: because…it’s a romance. Every romance heroine wants to be wanted in that way, even in sweet stories where the desire is unspoken.
Does he have to be tall dark and handsome?
Every reader has an idea about that. But, if the hero is short, chubby, and ugly, I submit to you that the skilled author can make a silk briefcase or maybe duffle bag out of him. For example, one of Mary Balogh’s Regency heroes (can’t remember the book) is a dreadfully disfigured army veteran missing an arm, but the reader totally goes along with the heroine, falling in love with him.
What Women Want
One of my author friends has a theory that for women, the #1 fantasy quality in a good hero is devotion to the heroine, or one might say obsession. He can’t get her out of his mind. Of course, that’s probably the #1 quality of a stalker also, so I refer you back to my list above for what makes the difference!
This post is part of a blog hop, so please hop along with my fellow MFRW authors and see what they have to say on this topic.
WWII images is from Wikipedia.org