Hero Worship

7 09 2009

First of all, Happy Labor Day!

We’re celebrating here at Write Direction as we jump into the month of September because two of our author bloggers have new releases this month. Wish for the Moon by Sandra Jones and Widow’s Peak by Hanna Rhys Barnes will both be available later this month. They’ll tell you more when they post in the coming weeks. They’re both also planning contests in honor of their releases so make sure you check back and comment on the blog throughout September!

This month we’re all pondering What Makes a Hero? As a writer, I put a lot of thought into my characters because to me, they’re the most important part of the book. I have to know my characters as people, and know them well before I go very far with my plot. How can I know how my hero will react in a certain situation if I don’t know him, know how he thinks, know his insecurities, know his motivations, know his fears, know his sense of humor?

I’m a fan of character sheets. I know the thought of filling in worksheets for characters makes many authors shudder and fight nausea, but I like them. I don’t necessarily enjoy spending hours filling them out, but I make myself do it because I need to. It’s part of my process—the getting to know you stage. And it’s the stage where I fall in love with my hero. I have to know him better than the reader ever will because I have to love him enough to write him in such a way that my readers will forgive him his flaws and inevitable stupidity that leads to him almost losing the heroine in the black moment. 🙂 I have to write him in such a way that the reader will fall in love with him too.

I’m a pre-published writer (I phrase it that way because it sounds so much more optimistic than unpublished), so I can’t use heroes from my own works in progress and expect any of you to know who I’m talking about. Instead, I’ll just go into my own hero worship mode and tell you about my writing idol and her hunky heroes.

If you haven’t read Suzanne Brockmann, you should. I have a lot of keeper authors in the romance genre, and of those I have a very short list for whom I buy hardcover. Suzanne’s at the top. Even of my keeper authors (not naming names), many huge blockbuster best-selling writers tend to re-write the same hero. Oh he’s mutated from book to book, and his name’s always different, but his insecurities reappear, or his mannerisms are the same, or his brooding alpha male persona that actually masks a wounded sensitive man feels familiar.

Suzanne’s Troubleshooters heroes are different. When I’m talking to someone about her books, I don’t ever have to think “hum…which book was that? Was that in the book with the FBI agent or the military guy? And what were their names?” The characters, not just the heroes, in the Troubleshooters books are as different as each of my family members, work colleagues, and writing buddies. They’re distinctly unique. And that’s what I consider the pinnacle of good characterization. Her accomplishment is even more impressive because it’s a fifteen book series with over fifty recurring characters and extremely complicated overlapping plotlines.

[Digression: The fifteenth book came out in July and contained an announcement that there would be one more book but that it would be the last one in the series. At that point, my heart and breathing rates elevated and I rushed to my computer to send Staci Culver a panicked e-mail instructing her to tell me I had read it wrong and it wasn’t true. I have since read an online interview with Suzanne Brockmann where she explained that she was merely taking a “hiatus” from the series for a while. Please mean it, please mean it, please mean it. I can understand her wanting to move on to other projects, but at the same time, she’s created an addiction for me and I really don’t want to be left without a fix, LOL.]

I should clarify that my personal writing goals do not include writing characters like Suzanne’s. I don’t want to write or sound like anybody else. I hope my writing has the stamp of my own unique style and voice. I don’t want to recreate Tom or Decker or Dave or Izzy. I just want to hone my characterization skills to the level of Suzanne’s (or as close as I can get) so that the heroes that spring forth from my head can be just as unique and to-die-for-sexy as hers.

So… Talk to me about heroes. Who’s your writing hero? Who are your favorite heroes from novels you’ve read? If you’re a writer, what methods do you use when creating heroes? Comment away, and remember to check back for more details on Sandra’s and Hanna’s new release contests.



6 responses

7 09 2009
Klara Kline

I like strong hero’s who are tough but know they have a sensitive side, and can on occasion let it show.
I get help forming my characters from astrology. I Find my character from the star sign that I need and add from there. and I have a character trait book too. Like personalities of first born, middle born, or an only child etc.
Good luck with your writing!

13 09 2009

Astrology is an interesting angle, Klara! I love how every writer’s process is completely different. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and best of luck with your own writing as well. 🙂

10 09 2009
Joanna Aislinn

My guys live in my head. I don’t write character sheets. Like the reader, I get to know my heroes as I go. I have a sense of who they are but I learn plenty along the way, often falling in love as I go.

The love of my writer’s life is my own Billy Jay Eldridge but he’s got wonderful stand-up friends, too 🙂 As per others: I loved Bonnie Vanak’s Thomas in The Scorpion and the Seducer; Lynn Austin’s Gabe Harper (Hidden Places) was a real sweetie. Kathleen Woodiwiss’ Cole Latimer (Ashes in the Wind) stands out and my topper has to be Francine Rivers’ Michael (Redeeming Love).

Joanna Aislinn
The Wild Rose Press Jan 15, 2010

13 09 2009

Joanna, It’s crazy how many people we writers have living in our heads, isn’t it? 😉 I have a love of my writer’s life too…his name is Cole, and his story isn’t finished yet. I drafted one version and put it aside years ago, but it’s been moved up to the top of my pile and I’m going back to it as soon as I finish my current WIP. 🙂

10 09 2009
Mary Ricksen

A perfect example of my kind of hero would be Jamie of the Voyager series by Diana Gabaldon. Ahhh, be still my heart.

13 09 2009

Hey Mary! Another Outlander Fan. 🙂 I’m still working my way through that one, but I will agree that Jamie has all the makings of a perfect hero.

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