I'm starting to write a new book, and do you want to know what I love best? Dreaming up the hero. It's sort of like jumping back into the ultimate dating pool. Dark or fair? Noble or poor? Smooth-talking or stoic? *Sigh!* So many archetypes to choose from.
Oh, it's tempting to give him every desirable quality known to woman, but then the heroine would fall for him instantly, and the story would be over before I got to chapter two. So I've got to give him some flaws.
Don't worry, he's not going to be missing any teeth or have a beer belly--he'll definitely be sigh-worthy. But he might be stubborn, or blindly loyal, or tormented by his past (or all three). Whatever his weaknesses are, he'll have to overcome them.
"But this is fiction!" you say. "Why can't he be perfect?" Here are a few reasons we can't have a perfect hero:
- It's not realistic. Surely the lack of perfect men does not come as a complete shock. (But don't we love them in spite of their flaws? Or maybe because of them?) Indiana Jones' fear of snakes was endearing. In Swingers, Mike's bumbling way with women and his deplorable tendency to shirk dating norms was charming.
- We want to cheer for the hero as he fights his inner demons. Didn't you feel for Maximus (Russell Crowe) in Gladiator as he sought revenge for the death of his wife and child? The more tortured the hero, the more we're rooting for him.
- We want to watch the hero and heroine's relationship evolve. Having to overcome cultural differences (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) or time travel (Kate & Leopold) or some other obstacle makes falling in love so much sweeter, doesn't it?
So I'm giving my hero plenty to work on. He won't be perfect at the start of the story, but by the end he'll be absolutely perfect for my heroine. But before I get too far ahead of myself, I'd better think of a name for him . . .