Tuesday, May 04, 2010

What Kind of Hero Do You Like To Read About?

BLOGMANIA winner Michelle M got back to me and I'll be mailing her prize out tomorrow. Thanks to all who participated. I'll have another giveaway at the end of May, so please stick around.

HEROES--what kind do you prefer? The covers of many of my friends' books feature muscle-bound bared chests. Not that that's a bad thing, you understand. But I have wondered what kind of hero readers prefer. Being married to a wonderful Hero, I find he's the building block for all the heroes in my writing. As he's aged, he might not fit your description of a hero, but he cetainly fits mine perfectly. Remember, we see loved ones with our hearts, not just our eyes. One of the questions I asked my Darlings when I told them the fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast" was whether the Beast changed in appearance. Or was it just that as Beauty came to know him, she saw the real him and not just his exterior? If that is what happened, then she's the one who changed. Deep thinking to pose for a kid, huh? But this is one basis for stories of scarred or emotionally unreachable heroes.

When writers decide to write a novel, the first thing they do is decide what the hero and heroine will be. We have to know about our characters before we can make them real for readers. So what kind of heroes are in my books? Hmm, the thing they have in common is that they are all strong men. By that, I don't mean The Hulk muscles, but determination. Yes, they are strong physically, too, but that's not as important as other qualities. Here are some important parts of a hero's character:

Honor -- if a hero says he will do something, you know he will make every effort to keep his word. Now he may tell the occasional lie, but it's to protect a secret he's vowed to keep or a person in jeopardy. This is the kind of person who can make agreements based on a handshake because he's known to keep his word.

Sense of Humor--Can you imagine being commited for life to someone who doesn't smile or make the occasional joke? Ugh. Boring! No matter how passionat a man and woman are about one another, eventually they have to talk to one another at least part of the time.

Adventure--I mean a willingness to try new things. New foods, new travels. I don't mean being a daredevil because I want my Hero to safely return home in one piece. No adrenaline junkies for me! But he has to be brave enough to risk his life for a cause or others if called to do so.

Strong work ethic--No excuses for failure. That doesn't mean he won't fail. Failure will be due to circumstances beyond his control and not due to bad decisions or laziness. And he won'd let failure stop him. He'll work even harder to achieve his dreams. Maybe his work will be mental instead of physical, but I think callouses on a man's hands are a good thing.

Looks: Any lines in his face need to indicate he smiles, unless he's a brooding hero about to be reformed by a charming lady. It doesn't matter to me whether he has all his hair or is bald as a billiard ball. For readers, though, a thick head of dark hair seems to be the first choice. I like twinkling blue eyes because my Hero has those. For a novel, I don't think it matters as long as the author remembers and doesn't change eye color halfway through the book. Believe me, that's happened to other authors. Physique also doesn't matter to me, but most readers prefer a strong, muscular physique.

Writers strive to conjure up a hero and heroine with whom the reader can identify/empathize. What qualities do you look for in a hero in a book and/or in life?


Bianca Sommerland said...

Funny, my last post was along the same lines. You're right though. Personality has a lot to do with what makes a hero. I like to think giving them good looks is like getting that out of the way so the reader can focus on who the characters are.

Love the insight. Can't wait to read futur post.

Happy Blogathon!

Rah said...

I want a hero that has depressed pessimistic, lazy character, who doesn't care about anything. But when it's time to be a hero, everything changes and he becomes his SUPER EGO, everything that he ever want to be.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Natasha, good take on getting the physical description out of the way early so readers can focus on who the characters are. I hadn't thought of it in those terms, but you are correct. I always think I need to give the reader a description so they form a mental picture of the character and that makes the character more vivid.

Thanks for your comment

Caroline Clemmons said...

Rah, I see that you like heroes to undergo a complete change. My hero in The Most Unsuitable Husband did that--started out as a cynical con man and ended up a hero. Most of the heroes I writer are reluctant, but their sense of honor and protective instinct prevents them turning from the challenge.

Thanks for commenting.