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Today, I surfed over to a blog where someone I know was a guest and they were talking about favorite heroes and heroines from books they’ve read. And that caused me to think about that.
Many weighed in and named their faves.
Most of the posters consistently named Roark from Nora’s “In Death” books, a character that hasn’t excited me at all. I’ve tried to analyze what it is about that character that so many love, but it eludes me.
Several others names Jamie from Diana Galbaldon’s series. He didn’t do much for me either.
A few of the posters named Scarlett and Rhett. I did like those two as Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable portrayed them in the movie.
This just goes to show you how subjective reading is. So I compiled my own list. You might notice that all of my faves are alpha males.
First, I came up with Tom Booker from “The Horse Whisperer.” Great book by a great writerly writer. I didn’t especially like Annie, but I fell in love with Tom Booker.
Then, there are Penelope Williamson’s epic books. “The Heart of the West,” with its angsty lifelong relationship between Clementine Kennicutt and Zach McQueen who was loveable in his own rough way. Also, “The Outsider” and the challenging love story between the righteous Rachel Yoder and the outsider and dark anti-hero, Cain. Who can resist an anti-hero who is basically good?
My next thought was of Kara Whittenbrook and Ben Thocco in Deborah Smith’s wonderful book, “A Gentle Rain.” Ben was so honest, so caring and so much his own man, you couldn’t help but love him. And Kara did.
A hero from a book I read more recently is Jack Travis from “Smooth Talking Stranger” by Lisa Kleypas. Her heroes are always alpha and heroic, but IMHO, she hit a homerun with Jack because she added a bit of a sense of humor to an already charming man.
What I realized from this exercise is that over the years, I’ve read a large number of books, some of them more than once or even twice, but the number of heroes and heroines I could remember was small. What does that say about writers writing and me as a reader reading?
Crafting a memorable hero is harder than it might seem. My stories emanate from the characters I create. In other words, the plot doesn’t dictate the characters that populate the story. Rather, the characters drive the plot. Thus, I devote a lot of thought to how I want a hero to be perceived by readers before I ever put a word on a page.
In many ways, the characterization is organic in that I believe it comes from something deep inside. A philosophy, more or less. A fantasy of how a hero should be and how a heroine should respond to him. And from that I make a story.
Anthropologically speaking, since the beginning of history, women have instinctively been attracted to alpha males who can provide for them and physically protect the nest. These days, the attraction has a more intellectual bent in that the method of providing and protecting is not brawn, but brains and perhaps wealth. Hence, a whole new type of attractive male has emerged.
So do women now go for the nerdy type over the alpha type and is that what they want to see in the romance novels they read?
How about you? I know all of you are readers and I’ll bet you all have favorite heroes. Are they your faves because they’re alphas or because of something else? Open up, readers. Confess who your fictional heroes are.