The hero. Sigh. You can’t have a great book—or even a bad book—without some sort of hero. Let’s face it. As much as we complain about the men in our lives, try to change them, try to gently boss them around, and annoy them, we can’t live without them.
So then, why, as writers, do we agonize over what our heroes look like, sound like? What character traits shall we bestow on them in the plotting process as if we were fairy’s giving a blessing at birth. Should they be a hunk, a guy-next-door type, should they have a disfigurement? The possibilities are endless. But what they should have is an overwhelming drive that won’t let them give up and a touch of humanity.
I have a WIP about a werewolf. Yeah, he’s drop dead gorgeous, all blond curls and sexy bod, yada-yada, but he’s allergic to broccoli AND he’s in love with a vegetarian. Intriguing and funny, no?
Humanity. That little, special touch in a character that makes him relate to a reader. It makes the reader want to root for the guy when he’s on his last leg. It’s the shining something that the reader will say “Come on, give ‘em a break!”
Why? Think about the guy in your life again. Is he Superman, is he a James Bond type, is he away on a super secret mission to save the world? Probably not. He’s a “good” guy, a “stable” guy and as much as we drool over literary heroes, we’d prefer our men hands down. Because of their humanity. There’s that indefinable something about them that drew you to that one guy.
So, now matter how dark and broken a hero is, or how funny and sexy, wimpy with glasses, or battling the bulge, these guys deserve our respect and a second, third or twentieth chance. Yup, heroes in books are wonderful to read about, cathartic to write about, and good for the soul to drool over, but chances are, deep down, the writer has planted a seed of truth about a real life hero they know.
Just ask. They’ll tell you.