A nice young woman emailed me. At least, I think she was young, if you’re reading this and you’re not – you’re welcome. Now, I don’t have to relay all the details of her note, but it was a nice note and it got me to thinking.
She mentioned that she’s been having trouble with her hero because he’s too nice. She identified a problem she had with her hero’s internal goal. So, once she set out to fix that, she still felt her hero wasn’t as strong as he needed to be. Her question was: If my hero is too nice how can I make him stronger and more alpha?
Well, first let’s define too nice. To me too nice is a wimp. You know, the kind of man who looks down at the floor when any conflict arises. This is different from turning the other cheek. I want to make that clear. Sometimes having your hero restrain himself can be just as effective and sexy if the motivation for him choosing this path is clearly defined. A good example would be when your larger than life, hard-edge hero, who has accomplished past deeds of epic nature, eventually chooses to walk away from your heroine rather than hurt her (when the reader knows he easily could). This can be more effective in highlighting his vulnerability to her better than any ensuing conflict (no matter how brilliantly written). It’s all about proper motivation.
(IMO)? Too nice is a wimp – and too mean is an asshole.
This is what got me wondering. How does one find a good balance? One way is to highlight your hero’s strength through physical actions. You know? Mirrors the soul and all that, but, then it’s the soul that counts, right? Why not go directly to it because physical actions alone are not enough to sustain a character. Even without that soul and those inner core of strongly held beliefs your hero could still be victorious in battle or save those people from the burning building, but would he be worthy of your heroine’s love, just because he did so? Nope. And he has to be worthy of her love or else he’s an asshole and she’s TSTL (too stupid to live) for wanting him.
So, how strong should a romance hero be? There’s no right or wrong answer here, but I think the common thread that links all heroes together is a believability that the reader can fall in with. He has to be likeable no matter what kind of nature he has. I pose the question, how strong should my hero be for my heroine? And who better to answer that, then the heroine herself. After all, I’m expecting the reader to trust her judgement in men so why not ask her? This sometimes gives me deeper insight into his character and takes me to a place I otherwise wouldn’t have explored as deeply. My heroine will though, because she’s invested in making the hero understood no matter how complicated or (I’m not going to say weak – but how about kind?) the hero may seem on the surface when she knows there’s more to it than that. The surface things are what others see in him (his external deeds only) because others are not invested in mining the hero’s emotional territory - he is what he is to them. As opposed to what he is my heroine and what she sees in him - which are all the good things yet to be uncovered through their journey together.
Looking at it this way you may get some distance and clarity when deciding what make this particular hero the man he is.
A good question to ask yourself might be, Is it your hero’s heroic deeds on the battle field that defines him as the man capable of being loved by your heroine? Or is it the scars he bears and the emotional losses he must overcome in order to fully enjoy a connection to the one woman who loves him?
This a short erotic paranormal romance. It will be published by Ellora’s Cave. My wonderful editor, Grace Bradley, is doing her witch-like magic editing this for me right now. I was going to put down a blurb or a short synopsis, but then thought… Hey, why don’t I do a book video instead. Here it is, just click on the cover to see it. There’s an excerpt at the bottom if you want to read it.
Tenly gave up. Even if she could get the shorts off she had nothing to replace them with.
“Stupid laundry day.”
All her towels were in the wash and now that she’d poofed herself into this outfit, she was stuck because if she took it off she’d have nothing to wear when she exited. How had she wound up in a cutoff tee shirt and a pair of skinny Daisy Dukes, when she’d been going for a lace negligée and some sexy slippers? Well, there was nothing she could do about it now. She wasn’t strong enough to do another outfit. She had nothing, nada left in the casting department. Damn. The shorts he’d have to cut off her, because even if she wanted to, she couldn’t peel them—suddenly a picture of Mr. tall, dark and sexy trying to squeeze a pair of scissors between her and those shorts popped into her head. She closed her eyes and leaned back against the cool wood door with a groan. There was no way around this problem.
Taking a deep breath she opened her eyes and came away from the wood.
“Well, Tenly, you’ll just have to work with what you have,” she muttered under her breath and stepped to the mirror. Maybe she could distract him from her Dukes Of Hazards flashback if she fluffed her hair and put on some darker lipstick. Yeah, guys liked—
She almost coated her nose with cherry red gloss when she spied the writing on the front of her shirt. “Wait, what?”
The cylinder fell from her hand and she let it bounce on the counter as she pulled the tee out and tried to read it in the mirror. Unfortunately, the text was backwards. When she yanked it out to read it upside, her stomach dropped. That had to be wrong. Saying a quick prayer to the Fey Gods she whipped off the jersey and held it right side up.
“I’m a lady of negotiable affections you can afford.” She read it out loud and then gasped. He couldn’t see this. But she had no other options being spell-dry. Not even a towel…
Heheheh…If you want the answer you have to hop over to Passionate Reads . That’s where I’m doing a guest post and give away. Oh, but before you go click on the picture below to see my book video of Reclaimed Surrender. Thanks for stopping by! Riley!
It begs the question, how much sex would there be on his pages? I got to thinking about this because it was mentioned that in a particular book the hero and heroine didn’t “have sex” until halfway through the story. When I read this I scratched my head. Surely this was wrong. I read that book and knew how much sex there was on those pages, but then I realized. If you looked at the story the way Bill Clinton might, yeah, there was “no sex” until halfway through. Meaning that a penis didn’t penetrate a vagina until then, but, um, all kinds of other things might have.
When is sex, sex? This is what I want to know. I mean, does an erotic romance author have to be mindful of the full Monty penetration in order have him/her scenes classified as a legitimate sex scene? Or can a sex scene be a tension filled interlude where touching, kissing, sucking and *cough, cough* other things happen without traditional penetration?
In my mind, the moment the H/h go full-out horizontal the sexual tension is hard to sustain from that point onward. Usually plot devises are added or used to re-inject the thrill. So why serve the thrill of that one crucial moment up on page ten when you have a hundred and eighty more pages to wade through? I see no point to this.
Could it be the fast-tracked video, viral generation has reached the romance novel? Where a typical reader can’t be patient enough to let the thrill build?
Copyright 2013 by Riley Murphy. All rights reserved.