Thursday, August 10, 2006

More About Heroes

I was going to discuss those irritating "kick ass" heroines today, and I do plan to very soon. But I was thinking about a question someone else asked somewhere else (if I can be any vaguer than that, please tell me and I will try) and decided to discuss that instead. Mainly because I'm not feeling very ranty. I'm tired and a little pensive and my MIL arrives tomorrow for the weekend so I'm apprehensive about that.

So here's what I was wondering. When you write a hero (or, if you are a man, when you write a heroine) do you fall in love with them?

I do, at least to some extent. I have to. I can't write a hero effectively if he doesn't have at least some qualities that I admire or am attracted to or, you know, obsessed with or whatever.

A while ago I had a story in mind. I had an opening scene. It was a pretty good scene. It was a pretty good story. But the hero...I just couldn't get into him. He was too much of a crusader. He cared too much about the poor and unfortunate. I just don't find that sexy.

Which makes me sound kind of shitty, I guess, but I can't help it. It's not that my heroes don't care about stuff, but the way this guy kept coming off was like some sort of Francis of Assisi or something. The kind of guy who would follow those silly permission guidelines that some college (I keep wanting to say Oberlin; am I right?) instituted in the early 90's. You remember, the one where anytime anyone wanted to touch anything or remove any clothing they had to ask first?

This isn't yet another discussion of manly heroes, though. It's more about what kinds of characters we write and why. I think there can tend to be an idea that if you're writing romantic heroes that you're in love with, you're basically writing a Mary Sue heroines to go with them, a thin stand-in for yourself so you can have this fantasy relationship with your perfect hero. That a real writer doesn't fall in love with their hero because they're writing someone who is perfect for their heroine, not for themselves. (And this is just the way my thoughts ran, it certainly wasn't suggested or implied by anyone at this other place.)

I don't think that's true, though, at all. Perhaps I'm just not talented enough, but to write a character really effectively I think I need to either love them or hate them. I need to feel strongly about them in order to convey them strongly on the page, if you know what I mean.

I fall in love with the heroines a little bit, too, though. Not in the same way, of course. But isn't making a new friend a little like falling in love? First you're interested in the other person, then you want to get to know them better, and you get together, and then maybe start talking on the phone, and at some point you do go through that same "falling in love" thing where they're basically the only person you want to talk to because it's so much fun to talk to them, as you learn all about them and they learn everything about you.

That's how it is with the heroines. Some of the things they do might irritate me but generally I admire and like them. I want to hang out with them. And--and this is something I'll go into another time--I get a little irritated when people say writers inject too much of themselves into a character. I'm a pretty complex kind of a lady. I have a lot of interests and a lot of opinions, and when you get right down to it, how many character traits are there out there that we don't all possess in ourselves?

So in a very roundabout way I guess that's the crux of the thing. When you write, how much of yourself are you investing? Do you have to love or hate your characters-does it make it more fun when you do?

And I almost forgot: a big huge Congratulations! to my great friend SW Vaughn, who sold a romantic suspense novel to Wild Child Publishing! No release date yet, but I'm very excited for her!


Isabella Snow said...

I'm in love with my heroes before I write them. Don't know how to explain that. But despite their different outward appearance, names, mannerisms - they are always the same man where it counts.

barista brat said...

i agree about the heros. there has to be something desirable and admirable about them.

as for the heroines, i need to put some of myself into the character, or i just don't care enough to continue writing. i've shelved the three ideas because the heroine was too different from me and i couldn't be bothered to plan an adventure for her.

Bernita said...

Think the key word is "friends".
I have to like my hero and heroine( even though the hero may annoy me at times)
Have made my heroine quicker and smarter than I, but she does have some of my habits. I don't panic or flap easily.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Aaaw! Thank you, December! :-) (((hugs))) Now we'll be hearing that your Dragon will see print soon!

Oh, hell yes. I love my heroes. I love my antagonists too... well, most of them.

And if you're horrible for not liking a guy that hearts the poor and unfortunate, I must be too. :-)

Erik Ivan James said...

My heroines are women I have loved, I fall in love with, or, I at least want to take to bed.

My hero, it seems, is that which I dislike the most about myself.

December Quinn said...

I know what you mean, Isabella. If I'm in love with them before I start, it motivates me to get started!

I think we tend to put something of ourselves into every character we write, barista, don't you? LOL on not being bothered to plan an adventure for her! That's how I felt with my do-gooder hero!

Exactly, Bernita. My heroines aren't me, but I like them, and they tend to have some of my qualities.

December Quinn said...

You're welcome, SW! And thank you!

Okay, Erik, you're going to need to explain that. Your heros embody the qualities you hate about yourself?

Anonymous said...

I think you are write about that (a joke, sorry). In many cases we even have the heros (or whoever) do the things we like to do or give them some background based on our on. One of my stories (novella length) is about two Air Force officers developing a top secret weapon and their off-duty passion is motorcycles. Their boss (the general) is constantly badgering them about the dangers of motorcycles. I'm retired AF and my passion is, you guessed, motorcycles, and yes, the AF constantly harrasses (sp?) motorcycle riders about the risks. One of them is nearly taken in by an attractive female spy. Why did I write that into the story? Well, maybe I wouldn't mind having a trist with an attractive female spy -who knows? I don't think we can help writing a LOT of ourselves into our stories, and there's nothing wrong with that. -JTC

Jenn on the Island said...

Of course I do. They couldn't be my heros if I didn't.

Problem starts when I fall in love with my CP's heros. She never makes them do what I want them to.

Isabella Snow said...

Yeah, my heroines are usually pretty much me. Just with far less profanity tossed into there dialogue. But with better figures. And with FAR better sex lives.


Southern Writer said...

I LMAO when I read the bit about getting permission. At first, it seemed ridiculous, but under the right circumstances, it might be a fun game. Can I touch you here? Can I kiss you here? Can I suck on your toes? Can I bite your nipple? Can I slap your ass? Can I ... well, you get the idea.

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