Friday, December 11, 2009

Let's Talk About Men

I have a question for those of you interested in romance writing. I've been mulling some articles about romance hero archetypes, and could use your help shaping the topics.

Is there are particular type of romance hero you find most compelling? (Bad boy, lone wolf, rogue, dom, beta, etc.)

What draws you to that hero type? Does anything about the other types repulse you?

Me, I kind of like them all. Each for different reasons. But I would like to hear some thoughts that originate outside my own head. :)

tia,
Theresa

36 comments:

Laura K. Curtis said...

I have a weakness for the scarred hero, but I like them all. To me, what's important is the combination of hero and heroine. They have to fit. If he's Alpha, she has to be strong enough to stand up to him. If he's more of a sensitive guy, she has to be the kind of woman who won't view that as a weakness.

I recently read a romantic suspense with an Alpha hero and a woman who did nothing but giggle nervously/helplessly. I wanted to kill her. No way would I believe he would fall for her. I couldn't even finish it.

Murphy said...

I like the bad boys! Anyone remember back in the day of Rosemary Rogers: Sweet Savage Love or Kathleen Woodwiss's: The Wolf and the Dove or even The Flame and the Flower? *sigh* I loved those guys and when you really look at them, they were kind of mean, weren't they? Today we'd call that edgy. ;)

Murphy

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Scarred, lone wolf, rogue... I like them all. What I'm looking for -- at least these days -- is someone who looks at romance and sex as a partnership. A man can be a dom, but so long as he's invested in his partner's pleasure, I'm good with it.

It's when we get these alpha men who walk in the door, command the woman to flip up her skirt and bend over the couch... it's too much like abuse to me right now. I can't go there, even in fiction.

JewelTones said...

I'm a sucker for the bad boy/lone wolf (one with serious inbred loyalty and honor(nothing sexier than loyalty and honor). Alpha Male but in the good way, not the dominating/domineering way.

JT

Anonymous said...

I like really bad guys with questionable motivation. You want to believe they had a good reason for being so bad... you want them to be redeemable... but they're just not going to show that aspect of motivation.

I can't stand a simpering hero any more than I can tolerate the "victim heroine". Conversely, if a character is too perfect and has no flaws I find myself rooting for the antagonist. ;)

What can I say? This is probably why I'm such a psycho-magnet IRL.

Leona said...

I swear I am not the anonymous poster!!

I have similar views, but mostly, I think like others here have said - the heroine and hero have to fit together, complement each other.

Anonymous said...

Leona...tsk. Anonymous only means I was too lazy to sign in this morning. ;)

Skeptic-who-perpetually-lurks

Murphy said...

@Susan Helen Gottfried: Amen sister! :D

Strong, honorable, and loyal -- AND Invested in his partner's pleasure. *sigh* That's my kind of guy!!!

Murphy

Jami G. said...

Theresa,

As others have mentioned here, if it's an Alpha, they have to be a certain kind of Alpha (not so domineering as to border on abuse, invested in partner's pleasure, have a good reason for their behavior, loyalty, honor, etc.). The heroes I write tend to be a mix of Alpha and Tortured Hero. The Tortured part often gives them the motivations for their behavior and the weaknesses that keep them from being perfect.

Bad boy, lone wolf, and rogues all tend to overlap with Alpha and Tortured as well. And all of those can be good if done well like mentioned above. A dom just to be dom, not interesting. :) And a beta...I haven't seen one that I like. It doesn't mean it can't be done, I just see this more with the sidekick personalities than the main hero.

Jami G.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Murph, I'll have to introduce you to my Mitchell. I'm told he's swoon-worthy.

Natalie E Bowers said...

My type of hero is always one part good man and one part pirate, with a dash of tortured soul and a soup├žon of sensitivity thrown in for good measure. Think Captain Jack Sparrow. Think Captain Han Solo. Think Captain Mal Reynolds. Okay, so they're not actually heroes from romance novels, but a girl can dream, can't she?

Leona said...

@Natalie :D I love your descriptions. Han Solo is the perfect example! I'm also a Star Trek fan and I'd like to add Captain James T Kirk. (Can't forget him when talking of Captains we like :)

@anonymous lol I don't know how to get here without signing in. I'm dependent on my dashboard now :)

And I agree with Jewel Tone about Loyalty and Honor, but I might add looks good doing the dishes :P

Eva Gale said...

I think Neal Caffery in White Collar is my perfect hero at this point. The Anti Hero. :-) He's a bad boy, but he's smart, charming and doing the right thing within his own motivations. Then there's another Anti hero--Puck, from Glee, but he's not trying to change at all (stealing $ from the bake sale to pay his babymomma). So, there's a line one must teeter. Cute ain't going to seal the deal. There has to be more.

Personally, I've been thinking there is no Alpha. The geek is going to be an alpha in his own environment, no? And true leadership is teamwork so the (New) Alpha, to me, is one that works well with others. Even if he starts out as a lone wolf, he's brought into society by the woman, no? Enkidu? (That's the post I'm working on now)

Jordan said...

Hey, let's don't forget that Han Solo sells out to the establishment. And his rank is General.

I think I married my ideal hero type—somebody who has the appeal (or appearance?) of a bad boy, but none of the actual "bad" to go with it. It just took some time for me (the heroine?) to figure that out.

Jordan said...

@Eva—Neal is great.

DID YOU SEE THE END OF THE FALL FINALE?!?!?! Holy CRAP what is going on?!

Jami G. said...

Eva,

What a good point about people being an Alpha in the right situation. I've know far too many of those geeks who become Alphas (the jerk kind, unfortunately) in their territory. I could see this working in a storyline. A beta-type that the heroine doesn't quite respect enough to fall for until she him in a situation taking charge and showing her a whole new side to his personality.

Jami G.

JewelTones said...

I attended a workshop a few years ago a the RWA about hero types and the author was very clear about an Alpha Hero *not* being a domineering jerk. Alpha, she said, are heroes through and through -- the type who protect and defend. He can have a bold, strong, determined personality without having to or even wanting to control or dominate the people are him. She also pointed out that that kind of hero needs a strong heroine who can keep the home and family safe and secure while he's out fighting the war he feels honor bound/loyal bound to fight. That whole matching of equals, which I'm a firm believer in as well. :)

JT

Edittorrent said...

What I find so interesting about all this is how open to interpretation it is. I mean, can we all agree on the exact place to draw the line between alpha and asshole? Or is assholery, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder?

I love Han Solo. *swoon*
Jack Sparrow *swoonswoon*
We could use more bad boy/rogue hybrids like them. But would any of us want to marry a guy like that in real life?

And the lone wolf. Anyone see William Hurt in Jane Eyre? I know, a blond Rochester, who would think that could work. But he was amazing. The man was brimming with agony.

Theresa

JewelTones said...

I grew up with my mother telling me heroes are fabulous... but totally hard to live with. They have a code of honor and if there's a battle to be fought, the hero will go because he *has* to go. It's who he is. So I've always looked at that type of guy as sexy as all hell but with its own, unique set of hurdles as a lover/husband.

JT

Eva Gale said...

Jordan, I know! that is one amazing cliffhanger!

Jami G, I thought the same myself-that's a great story to draw a certain character out of and put the spotlight on.

Theresa, the alpha asshole...I can tolerate him IF he is crafted well and the heroine is an equal match. I cannot stand to see a heroine walked over and TSTL though. And he's going to have to have a major internal character arch to go with.

I think a bad boy/rougue is Sean Penn, and his wife and he recently divorced? Again? I remember Robin saying that being married to him was a beautiful nightmare. I could be wrong, but those words stuck in my head.

I think the draw of those men bad boys/rogues is the wanting to be the transformational catalyst for them-that's the romantic-we can save them idea, but being actually married to one? A beautiful nightmare.

Wes said...

Eva,
A friend of mine was married to a classic bad boy who was nominated for two Academy awards and two Golden Globes, and won a Cannes award (who knows, he might win more; he's still making films). She described the seven years much like a beautiful nightmare.

Jordan said...

@Eva—We DO think we can save them! It's a savior complex, and I and many women I know have been there. (Unfortunately, many of us have little to nothing beautiful about our nightmares.)

(Weird, random fact--right now on Wikipedia, "savior complex" redirects to "Narcissistic Personality Disorder," defined as "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and a lack of empathy." Not quite the same thing....)

Eva Gale said...

Wes, wow. I feel bad for her. No one gets married with the hopes of endless emotional turmoil.

Jordan, that is sooo cool-a savior complex, you're right. How about that for a character flaw--wow, wow, wow. I learn so much on this blog it's like crack.

I guess my one caveat is that I did marry a bad boy, a real one, but when we met he had already saved himself.

Murphy said...

Wes:

How can he be the 'classic bad boy' when he did the predictable (yawn) seven year split? The horror! But, you devil, I noticed you were friends with the wife...do tell. (insert a hehehe here)

Susan? You don't mind if I hold off on typing out the rest of your name, do ya? I always want to type Godfried. Earlier I made a note to self - it's not Godfried it's Got fried with an extra 't' in it - I’m thinking Tequila. :D I bet you had some interesting teasing in school... I just wanted to say, that with a name like Mitchell, I'm already swooning. Good Job! :D Who else thinks names are important? Could anyone be onboard with say: an alpha male named Francis? How about Dudley or Blex? I’m trying to imagine writing a scene where I’d have my heroine sigh, “Oh, Franny, you really do it for me.” Gag! Am I being mean or did the big ‘S’ know what he was talking about with the 'rose' analogy.

Murphy

word verifiction - no shit: cwuzzin - sounds like Elmer Fudd saying he's heading out to pick up chicks!

Jami G. said...

Eva,

Yes, the bad boy heroes that ring true to me (and that you can believe in a HEA and not just a Happily For Now) often are ones where the bad boy (rake, etc.) redeems himself. Sure, the heroine often has something to do with his choice, but it's more about his choice than her changing him. Because we all know that IRL you can't force someone else to change. :)

Jami G.

Jenny said...

Sorry to interrupt a very interesting thread--I swear I read a post here once about handling dialogue when we don't know the names of the speakers. As in someone listening in on a conversation, say, between two women and a man. Like the first time one speaks you could say, "the man with the ill-fitting suit" but when that person speaks again, how would you identify him in a non-cumbersome way? That kind of a thing.

But I can't find the post. If it rings a bell would you mind directing me?

Thanks!

Jami G. said...

Hi Jenny,

Interrupt away. :)

I did a quick search and couldn't find a post about that exact question, but you'll find lots of semi-relevant posts by clicking on the dialogue and dialogue tag labels on the right side of the page if you're reading this from the website. If there's just one man, you could refer to him as "the man" or "the suit" or something in between. So you'd only really need to differentiate the women: the redhead, the tall woman, the older woman, etc. Does that help?

Jami G.

rachelcapps said...

Leona, we are so on the same page!

And I must add of Captain Kirk, in a not-read-any-books-only-seen-the-movie sort of way, that his diversity makes him appealing. The wounded, rebellious past, and yet a man still willing to take on different challenges. Bold with women and capable of respect at appropriate times. Funny, of course. And focused on his goal.

Really interesting thoughts, everyone! Thanks for a stimulating post, Theresa

elizaw said...

Tricksters. I adore smart, capable, tricksters.

Anyone can have a gun, wear black, or be angsty. Give me a man who can play one man against another, work with what he has, and still get out without detection any day.

Kathleen MacIver said...

I know I'm late to this...but my favorite heroes are my favorites for two qualities...honor, and humility. I hate arrogance in a man, and absolutely love it when he's so sure of himself that he doesn't need to brag or advertise his skills, powers, knowledge, etc. If he's totally willing to be underestimated, I love it!

Natalie E Bowers said...

@Leona - How could I forget James T Kirk!? He's definitely added to the list.

@Jordan - Hey, let's don't forget that Han Solo sells out to the establishment. And his rank is General.

Well, it depends on who you consider to be the establishment . . . and I believe he wasn't made a General until Return of the Jedi. I first fell in love with him when he was a Captain. :-)

Edittorrent said...

Jenny, I don't remember a post on that specific issue, but we can certainly do one. I'll add it to the queue.

I've had a lot of tenuous thoughts running through my mind about the Exalted Nature of Romance (note caps) and all this hero talk ties into it. If I can congeal the brain mist, I might do a post on this, too. Romance hits a powerful button for so many women, and some men. If art is an expression of the human condition, romance novels express something meaningful. Something to do with redemption.

Theresa

Lea Schizas - Author/Editor said...

I like the bad boy type, the one who appears to have a tough exterior but we all know with the right persistent female he's going to open up eventually.

AmyB said...

I like smart, sweet, somewhat geeky heroes, and unfortunately for me they rarely appear in romance novels. Some examples I liked: Kel-Patan in "Games of Command," Miles Vorkosigan in Bujold's SFF series, Antryg Windrose in Barbara Hambly's fantasy series, Edward in Elizabeth Hoyt's "The Raven Prince." I like a little vulnerability in a hero. I can't stand rakes, bad boys, or overbearing men. I know my tastes are atypical. It's hard for me to find romance novels with the right kind of hero for me.

Dave Shaw said...

Ah, AmyB, interesting you should say that. I hadn't really thought about it in those terms before, but in the stuff I write, the bad boys usually lose out to the smart, sweet, geeky types. Must be wish fulfillment on my part... Hehe.

Word verification: cryby

Pauline Allan said...

I enjoy reading and writing about broken men. A lone wolf, a confused ghost, a dom searching for his perfect sub, all is well as long as he is strong and whatever is troubling him can only be fixed by a certain heroine. I love a bad boy who has a funny and sensitive side when he's with his lady. The hero must have a unique voice that makes him stand out because of his sarcastic nature or deeply troubled past. Again, I love my heroes broken and reluctant when his woman wants to patch him up with her pretty pink duct tape!