Ideal Hero Week
Writers, readers, and scholars of the genre have said much about how the Ideal Romance Hero is a delicate brew that achieves a balance of 3 attributes: enough kindness to nurture the heroine and her future children; sufficient aggression and toughness to offer them protection; and varied characteristics that compliment / complete the heroine (and her kitchen).
In an attempt to balance this difficult mix of sometimes contrary qualities, writers pile up evidence that the hero is both tough and tender, savage and sweet, angry and angelic, valiant and vampiric. (Pardon my effusive alliteration, but you’ll agree that sound is the only things these opposite words have in common.)
Yet writers manage the herculean task of their contradictory characterizations by developing these traits in every aspect of the novel. As scholar Janice Radway explains, even the hero’s physical description is suggestive of his underlying tenderness. Something as simple as dimples in lean cheeks are physical markers of an underlying childlike or feminine capacity for love.
The formula for finding this balance is basic math. I’ve made you a little cheat sheet for 3 most essential formulas.
(Aren’t my little men cute? Drawing the hair was so much more fun than I anticipated. I also felt a wee bit guilty labeling Brad Pitt a lefty simply for the sake of rhyming with “strong jaw,” but I looked it up! Turns out he is a south paw.)
1. If the hero is a warrior, a fighter, or an alpha marked by strong muscles and a strong jawline, the threat he presents must be divided by sweet baby blue eyes, dimples, or worry over the heroine that turns him into a Tender Tough Guy. Homework: Lori Foster. (*I felt a wee bit guilty labeling Brad Pitt a lefty simply for the sake of rhyming with “strong jaw,” but I looked it up! Turns out he is a south paw.)
2. If the hero is a shifter, a changeling, a werewolf, or some other kind of beast, his animal side needs to be humanized by signs of rugged manhood: tattoos, clothes, fast cars, or–on occasion–success in business (because we all know the boardroom is a suitable place for the killer instinct of the Sexy Shifter.) Homework: Nalini Singh.
3. If the hero aggresses at everyone–including the heroine–his anger must be recoded as frustrated love and desire for the heroine. Throw in some hasty hugs and kisses and all will be well with the Deeply Troubled Darling. Homework: Anything with Vampires.
What character math did you read or write recently?
More Books With Benefits that might be Ideal for you–>
Categories: Love Letters: Editorials