Thursday, February 12, 2009

Back to Basics - Those Darn Heroes

A few people know me as a writer, but they don't know I am also an editor and a publisher. After years of working in the industry, I've discovered a few things that can kill a story right from the start. Some of them actually deal with our subject of the month – lol.

Let's take a look at those mistakes with our beloved heroes.

1.Girly-men—Alphas are back in style. Those adorable, and well-stepped on doormats known as Beta Heroes are out. Look to the Warrior stereotype and the Chief. These are hard Alphas. The Loner can be, but watch he doesn't start crying on the heroine's shoulder. Examples from books – Julie Garwood almost always writes a Warrior. Judith McNaught is the queen of the Chief. Johanna Lindsay often, but not always, writes a Loner.
2.Get-your-head-out-of-your-pants Heroes—This type of hero is getting old. Three dimensional heroes with firm back story and true motivation will take you a lot further. The whole, wet dream hero is definitely out and ew.
3.Logical and logistical—This throws authors anymore. I blame the prerequisite coming out of some (note- I said some) e-publishers to rush everything to sex. This attitude of 'we don't care about their motivation, but about getting the story hot', is losing steam. The GMC is back in style for major players.
4.The Hero's Journey—A book I think every writer should read is The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Campbell. Not only is this story the template for Descension/Ascension plots, but it is a great tool for those who don't understand the Hero's Journey. Any time you are writing a Hero's Journey, use your Impact Moment to your advantage. They will start changing from that point on.

There are a few more but these are the predominant offenders. The strength of a hero can make or break a story. If you are writing a Warrior, he better be tough. A Chief, he'll control the situation. A Loner, keep their tough exterior in place unless you are working on a pivotal moment. Loner's are often prideful too. Keep this in mind.

What do you think? Is it time to get our heroes out of the stratosphere and back to making sense? Do you have any pet-peeves when it comes to heroes?

Until next time, cheers and happy writing,



Angela Guillaume said...

Finally ordered Campbell's book - been wanting to do it for a while, but you know I need it :-D.


Sandy said...


Well said. I'm sick of sex in a story for no other reason than the goal is to leap each others bones.

To me a good love scene needs motivation.


Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

I too am tired of the wham-bam-we just met but let's shag coz we feel like it, kind of story. It gets stale.

A girly man too throws me off.

Unproper motivation is also another deterrent. Not enough backstory is another peeve. I want to know why he is like he is and how he became like that.

Good post, T.J.