Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Holding out for a hero

One of the nice things about smallish children is that you can still influence their music tastes to a certain degree. Despite being a Disney popette at heart enough exposure to my C.D.'s means that, although the seven year old may resist The Stone Roses, she's rather partial to Pulp and completely loves the few eighties bands I still listen to. Yesterday we were listening to Aha as we drove through the Yorkshire countryside both singing along lustily while I reminisced about My First Crush. Ah, Morten.

Was it the octave spanning voice? Was it the cheekbones? Was it an utterly winning combination of the two? Whatever the reason his posters adorned my walls, I wore leather bands twisted round my wrists which tightened uncomfortably when they got wet, listened to the music over and over. And I wrote. Maths was confusing, boring, far more fun to spend double lessons writing a never ending saga in the back of my workbook starring myself, clad in a Dynastyesque red sparkly dress, split up to the thigh and Morten, debonaire in a tux, rakish in a leather jacket. Mostly I swept down grand staircases or rode in sports cars, I was a very innocent thirteen year old. But one thing I did know, you have to fall in love with your hero. And as a romance writer you need to make sure your readers love your hero just as much as you do.
And fall in love I did - with Mr Darcy, Captain Wentworth, Gilbert Blythe, a whole array of Heyer heroes from the boyish to the rakes.
The best romantic novels give the reader heroines they want to be friends with coupled with heroes they want to sleep with. Take Jessica Hart's latest book, "Ordinary Girl in a Tiara". Lovely as Kate Middleton may be it's hard to imagine having a giggly glass of wine with such glossy haired perfection but Caro with her bright, vintage clothes, love of food and open, friendly nature would be a great person to spend a girly night with. And Philippe, principled playboy, lost little boy, angry young man doing the right thing, handsome, charming,is a prince we can all lose our hearts too.
Writing our own heroes and heroines is not so easy, Making our heroines real, likeable women, our heroes flawed yet sexy, men we can imagine running away with is harder than seems possible, especially on the third or fourth rewrite when all you want to do is lock them both in a big box and send it to the bottom of the sea. I know my latest hero and heroine, their childhoods, their dreams, aspirations, hopes, favourite food, hobbies, fears, I like her, I fancy him but so far no reader has met them, questioned their motives. They are untouched by the outside world. Exposing them to readers is a step neither I, nor them, are ready to take just yet.


Kiru Taye said...

You have to be brave and share your hero with your readers. You might be pleasantly surprised. Sometimes readers help to make paper hero/heroines more 3-dimensional.

Julia Broadbooks said...

It is like leaping out of an airplane when you first expose your characters to readers. Scary stuff.

Xandra James said...

Great post. I agree, you have to be enraptured with your hero and think of the heroine as your best friend - faults and all - to REALLY get to the nitty gritty of the character. You're like me though, always worried about sharing them with others... Be brave :D