Holy Hot Heroes, Batman!
I think we can all agree on the importance of a hot hero, a man that draws the readers sympathy and inspires their empathy. When you're writing romance, one way or another, there needs to be cross-appeal of your hero with the heroine... but more importantly, with the reader.
All heroes are not created equal.
All heroes are not over 6 feet tall.
All heroes should be larger than life in some way that grabs the heart, and soothes the spirit... or riles it up beyond belief!
All heroes don't have a rakish grin. Some have a stern countenance, some have a slight smile, some look grim, some are teasing, laden, happy, burdened, stoic, somber, carefree...
|Heroes come in all sizes! (The Mighty Finn)|
But when your series is a group of brothers.... and they all live on the same ranch, drive SUVs and ride horse, and the books are set in the same town, well... Welcome to Differentiation Station!
A writer doesn't have the ease of TV's Bonanza (Adam, Hoss and Little Joe) to instantly show the differences in size, stature, coloring, etc. An author creates those differences, but we do a lot more at Differentiation Station!
Hair color? Eyes? Nose? Does anyone really know what the heck an aquilene nose is? And does Roman nose translate to "big" to anyone else? Those nose descriptions always bothered the heck out of me because as necessary as a nose is, let me say this:
I DO NOT FIND NOSES INTRINSICALLY ATTRACTIVE, NOR DO I MUCH CARE ABOUT THEM.
But if you do, go right ahead over to this issue of the U.K.'s Daily Mail and check out noses!
Snub or hooked, we here at Differentiation Station look beyond the obvious. We look to the heart and soul of the matter... ergo: The sublime.
(I might not be 100% sure what that means, but it sounds really good, right?)
I'm a numbers person with an analytical brain often at war with my creative nature and eager-to-please personality. This is a dilemma, but it's helpful in planning heroes!
Problem: three men, diverse personalities, all heroes, narrow time frame, same home setting, same town setting.
1. Birth order
2. Personality traits
3. Different mothers
4. Lifetime experiences
5. Different heroines
Looks only work to separate heroes initially... after that you need actions/reactions/personality/concerns/faults/flaws... for the reader to see/hear/feel the hero's personality come through
Mother deceased/childhood trauma remembered
Take no prisoners attitude
Graduate of Wharton
Hedge fund manager Lower Manhattan
Investments tied up
Anger and resentment directed at father
Kicked out after grad school
Always successful, never satisfied
Yawning hole where soul should be
Granite hard, almost heartless: key word: almost (reflective story like father, like son)
Ivory cowboy hat
Heroine primarily in ranch setting
Influenced by boss/NYC career/options (Natalie Monk, thank you!)
Abandoned by mother
Wants to best his father
Stayed on ranch
Anxious to please personality
Longs for normal life, wife, kids, church, All-American dream... Oops
Two daughters not allowed to be cowgirls
Lives off-site, suburban setting
Abandoned by wife (reflective story, repeating father's mistakes)
Scientifically adept at embryonic cattle breeding
Dark cowboy hat
Heroine has hobbit-style home in woods
Influenced by working w/father and former ranch manager/conflicting ideas (Natalie!!)
Trey Walker Stafford
Drug addict parents deceased/country music singers
Mother was Sam Stafford's sister, Sam rescued Trey and adopted him at age 3
Poet's heart, writes country music
Country music superstar, widowed when wife succumbed to overdose (reflective story)
Grateful for being saved
Kicked out for wanting to pursue music in Nashville
Tan cowboy hat/baseball cap
Cinderella type heroine in run-down farm next door'
Must deal with strong music agent who isn't a fan of Trey's choices (Natalie!)
So basically we've got the chiseled winner suffering a great public loss, the one-upper who has crashed and burned and the fixer who's crawling out of the broken pieces surrounding him.
USE YOUR HEROINE.
These men needed very diverse heroines, and they got them, and that helps me to magnify the differentiation more concretely in the reader's head. Not only are they different by physical stature, their living conditions, family conditions and conflicts are distinct. That helps us to set the heroes apart by association (remember the associative properties of mathematics? In the end, it's all mathematical!)
What other key or subtle ways could we use to set the men apart? I'd love to hear your ideas!
Hey, the good folks at Waterbrook/Multnomah are offering FIVE COPIES of "Back in the Saddle" today, they've opened their prize vault and want to welcome the villagers into the Double S Ranch in Central Washington with open arms!
Coffee's hot, and we've got Angelina's homemade bread, fresh butter and homemade sour cherry jam on the sideboard. Come on in and tell me what you like... and don't like, or would like to see... in your heroes and I'll toss your name into the freshly washed cat dish!
Multi-published, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne is living her dream and kind of giddy about it, frankly! She loves God, romance and likes to write the kind of stories she likes to read! You can find her on facebook where she loves to chat with folks daily, tweet her @ruthloganherne or stop by her website ruthloganherne.com!