Thursday, February 26, 2009

A man of substance

A hero...

The word itself is enough to send our hearts aflutter.

He is a worthy man, a handsome man (though he needs not be picture perfect), he is an honorable man. He is someone we can easily fall in love with.

In short, he is a man of substance...

But what does this entail when you're writing your hero? How do you bring substance to this persona?

Throughout this month we have brought you tips and tricks about how to create a hero, how to shape him, how to mold him to your story's specifics.

Today I'll go over them again, and add a few little hints too.

First, know who he is - what is he supposed to do in this story?

What sort of story is it? Dimensions of the hero explained how you need a 'different' man for every genre.

Then you go into how he is - archetypes come in handy here, to keep you in line when shaping him.

Next, you start fleshing him - physical appearance, among others, comes here. You can work off a picture/movie star/celebrity/your own man, whatever, as long as you know he has sandy hair when the story starts and he doesn't end up with hair like a raven's wings by the end.

You also decide whether your hero is a caveman or a metrosexual, or where along those 2 extremes he fits in. Depending on this definition, you'll know how he dresses (from Gap or from the runway shows of Armani, with a little bit of Prada thrown in), how he carries himself (is he blissfully unaware that he's got a hip movement to die for, or is he elaborately conscious that everywhere he walks is akin to a runway ramp?), what sort of lifestyle he has (stale pizza and beer at his place or the latest order from the hippest sushi bar in town?)

While I admit the metrosexual doesn't win my vote of favor, he can have his redeeming traits - up to you to make him lovable if you are using him (think David Beckham in an underwear ad).

Attitudes and values will also play in. What has made him who he is? Get yourself a well-compiled file on his backstory, and be sure to find his impact moment, which will define him for a lifetime.

And, if you are writing a romance, figure out how this man loves. I'm not talking only bedroom theatrics (though you do need to know how he fares and acts in the bedroom - room for lots of writer fantasies here *wink*). What does this man do when he loves a woman? Bring her flowers? What sort of flowers? Roses? Are they all of the same color or does he choose one flower by every color in the bouquets he brings? Does he bring a bouquet or a single flower?

Always, always, ask yourself questions. The hero is a man YOU need to fall in love with first. Treat him as any man you meet in real life - if this bloke captured your attention, what would you do? How do you think of him? Imagine you are sixteen again and start imagining your life with him, what it will be like, what he will be like.

Do this for this imaginary man, and you will end up creating a 'real' man that jumps off the page and grasps your reader's heart.

That's your aim - to make him memorable.

You have the tools. You have the knowledge. Use it.

As always, I welcome your comments! How do you go about creating your hero?

Aasiyah Qamar - Cultural romantic fiction, with a twist
With stories set amidst the rainbow nation of Mauritius, a multicultural island in the Southern Indian Ocean, author Aasiyah Qamar brings you tales of today's young women battling life on all fronts and finding love where they least expect it. Indo-Mauritian culture wants to stifle them in traditions, customs and antiquated morals while the world is opening its arms of modernity and globalisation. Where do these women belong? And more importantly, with whom?Find out more about her first release, The Other Side, here.


Sandy said...

Great post. I didn't used to do this, but now I do a profile that does have lots of questions. It does help to know your hero and other characters, too.

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Thanks Sandy. yes, it's true that the more you know about your characters, the more you are in tune with your story and are better able to lay it all down.