What makes a hero in a romance novel, much less any novel? It’s something many authors have pontificated over, discussed and revamped through the years. However, I find that my needs in a hero haven’t changed much, but have been more refined. I’ve written about the enlightened alpha male, which I find to be the most conducive to my lifestyle and my writing. The more I thought on it, the more I realized that truly the enlightened alpha was deserving of his own status and I’ve made him my Omega male. (Gods, the male in my life is gonna giggle like hell when he reads this!) But again, it forced me to consider- what makes a good hero for a story?
He’s heroic. Obviously, but how is he that way? He stands up for what’s right-even if in the past he hadn’t. He’s learned that by harming others who have done no wrong, you weaken yourself and are nothing more than a bully. Heroism is something that you are internally, not always something learned. Most men I consider heroes think about themselves in context of how can they be prepared to help others. They take care of themselves so they’re available for that purpose.
A good hero is not afraid of his own emotions. He might not understand them at times, sometimes wanting to dodge the significance when it makes him feel vulnerable, but when it comes down to it-he embraces the emotions because to do so otherwise is to ignore what he wants and needs. Most men don’t ignore what they want or need, though sometimes it takes a while for them to realize what is truly needed in their lives. They’re men– they can be simple that way. (smiles at the male in my life and waves– he’s SO going to kick my arse!)
Good heroes allow others to attempt things. They don’t take over because it’s safer and easier. They allow people to learn from their mistakes and good heroes help minimize damages to people involved if possible. Heroes know that knowledge sometimes has to be earned by failure, but it can be done in a controlled manner when possible. They don’t overrule anyone unless the risks outweigh the benefits. Sometimes they can be a bit pushy and domineering, but it’s because they’re doing this. In fact, when this insight and awareness is shown–it makes readers fall for the hero even more. Or at least it does with me and I don’t think the hero as an ego maniac with delusions of grandeur. LOL
Truly well written heroes understand themselves and they have insight into others. Though there is something we always miss within ourselves, heroes strive to be aware, even when they fail. They’re willing to listen, to work on their own issues, not just point out the faults in others. Heroes know that if someone points out something, it’s because of two reasons– spite or a need to help them become better. They use discernment and they do try to prevent miscommunications from happening. (Now, I admit I have major issues with any story being based only on miscommunication. Serious issue. If the people aren’t willing to talk things out– then they need to move onward to someone else. End of story. But if it’s a miscommunication with other complications and the miscommunication was in the process of trying to explain the other stuff– I can see that side issue happening. I’ve LIVED that complication and I’m someone who explains EVERYTHING.)
Some of my favourite heroes– Dr. Who, Captain Jack Harkness, Apollo from BSG, Dr. Daniel Jackson, Jacob from The Vampire Queen’s Servant series by Joey Hill, John Sheppard from SG: Atlantis, and many others in print. I have a PARTICULAR fondness for John Tregarth from the Vicky Bliss series by Elizabeth Peters. Why these heroes in particular with many others? Because these men are enlightened, sometimes a bit obtuse on things, but they honestly strive to be better and to learn from the people in their lives. In the case of John Tregarth– he tried so damned hard not to fall for Vicky and then he did whatever it took to be worthy of Vicky because his original job was NOT conducive to being with her. (You must read the series to understand this romance. It’s got to be one of my ultimate favourite romances that takes many novels to get to. *sigh* When he confesses to her in Trojan Gold– it made me giddy and sigh at such a romantic revelation..and trust me…it’s not wimpy, just heartfelt in a way that you just can’t help but wanna do things to him. LOL)
So what makes a good hero in your eyes? What characters have you read that just scream TRUE HERO?