Thursday, June 2, 2016

What Makes A Hero?



Do you have trouble making your hero anything but a Superman?  Bestselling author, L.A. Sartor, will let you in on  a few of her favorite ways to make your hero loveable, flaws and all.  Just not Superman.

My Hero isn’t Superman…or Ironman

Both are eye candy.  But Superman is well, just too super, and Ironman is just too much of a bad boy to make me want to be  around him much.  Although I admit, I’d love to fly in Superman’s arms and drive around in a billionaire’s cool Audi whilst in Monaco.

So how do you write someone in between these two super-heroes? A man that is real, has flaws and yet you care enough about him to hope that he and the heroine really do fall in love? Believable love.

So glad you asked.

In my latest WIP, my hero is bidding against the daughter of the man that almost destroyed the hero’s family. So I’d say there is a bit a tension from the get-go! Thus, Robert isn’t all smiles and fun. He’s not trying to get the heroine’s attention. He’s out to win the deal.  Period.

Oh, and it gets worse, they were childhood friends. So yeah, there is not going to be a lot of tenderness at first. So how do I make you fall in love with him?  How do I make the heroine see the real him behind the anger and the competition?

One technique I learned from screenwriting was originally called a pet-the-dog or more recently labeled, a save-the-cat moment.  And it doesn’t have to involve critters. It’s a moment that shows a spot of tenderness.  In my case, Robert is talking to a young boy about his dreams and encouraging him.  (Villians can have the same moment, by the way—the outcome is different, natch.)

So if we were a bit on the fence about Robert, hopefully, this moment would allow you to see another side of him. Of course, I created a few prior soft moments that the reader sees. But the heroine sees this moment with the boy.

POV reveal is another way. For instance, we don’t learn about the antagonism between the families from him, we learn it from the heroine, which makes him all the more vulnerable in our eyes allowing us to root for him. Naturally, he hints at the cause in his inner thoughts, but he’s not going to whine about it, thus make him less than a hero.

A hero doesn’t whine.



Another way is a few good flaws.  Yep, you heard me right.  Sorry, but I’m not all about those 6-pack abs, nor do I want a pot bellied  slouch. But a great crooked smile, a scar or two, even an impairment can make me root for him and for the couple to get together.  Years ago, Harlequin author, Gayle Wilson, wrote Echoes in the Dark about a blind hero and it was the most riveting, sensual book I’ve ever read.

And my last suggestion, at least for this post, is the hero’s use of gestures.  Nothing says ahhhh to me than the hero cupping the heroine’s cheek.  Being a gentleman. I’m not saying that your hero can’t show anger or frustration. But just think for a second, if he always opens the door for her and this one time he doesn’t because of whatever the tense reason is…that says more than to me than a disagreement or heated argument going on for paragraphs.

I recently read a book where the hero broke up with the heroine four times. I had zero sympathy for her going back for more and I really detested him because he came across as a namby-pamby wishy-washy man who needed her when the going was tough for him or else wanted her for physical release.

In other words, he was unredeemable in my eyes.



Conflicts can be tough and can drive wedges between characters, that’s our job. It’s also our job to make the reader get past those to give them a reason to keep on reading, wondering just how this couple is going to get together.

Yes, your hero is going to have his moments where he doesn’t shine, otherwise, he would be Superman. He may even have an Ironman moment where he goes overboard on something. Then he as to redeem himself to us and to the heroine. And it has to be real. We’re not perfect, neither are our characters. It takes those moments, those reveals, those flaws to balance out the man. To make him our hero.

Please let us in on a few of your ways to make your hero super, just not too super

L.A. Sartor is proud to announce she’s part of a new boxed collection of International Digital Award Winning Novels—Simply The Best.  Six award-winning novels, six bestselling authors, and six romance genres. Available now.

She’s the proud author of six books with two more in the works for release this winter. And she’s hard at work plotting a cozy mystery series that will be set in Colorado. L.A. has been writing for …. a long time.  Visit her at her website; www.lasartor.com or her blog www.andieadventure.blogspot.com.

And two lucky people who leave comments will get an ebook copy of Simply The Best.

63 comments:

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Guys,
THIS IS A FIRST. I'm the first to comment :) I was so pleased when Audra suggested I write a post...then I had to come up with a subject:( Luckily this hit me at the time when Superheros are all over the big screen. (Maybe it was subconscious :) )

I hope you enjoy the post and maybe even get a nugget or two from it. I'll be in and out tomorrow, but I so love chatting with you all, so that even on the road my computer is with me:)

Hugs, LA aka Leslie Ann

Vince said...

Hi L.A.:

Great to see you back again!

Wow! If you are going to do a cozy mystery series set in Colorado, may I suggest -- as a marketing person -- that one story involve the Durango train. Millions of people have been on that train and millions more hope to do so some day. All those millions of people are potential prospects! You'll need a picture of the train on the cover art.

Then for something inherently mysterious, consider Mesa Verde park. A body found in a kiva or cliff house will resonant with millions more who have been to the site. Again think cover art.

Now to make your hero super without superlatives -- consider these ideas:

1. give him a self-depreciating yet endearing sense of humor. (Mean sarcasm will not work.)

2. show him really (and I mean really) listening to what the heroine is saying. Show that she has his full attention. Have him ask a question later that he could only ask if he was paying attention to what she said and had been thinking about it.

3. have the hero notice little things that the heroine has done to enhance her appearance. "I like your new perfume", or "I like what you've done with your hair. It's very classy." The key: notice, then appreciate. Small changes work best.

I just love your "Simply the Best" collection of novels. I've checked them out and noticed that they are novels -- not novella shorts. They are also some of those authors' best books and they are in several genres. The set is an easy and inexpensive way (just 99 cents today) to try some new authors and new genres. BTW: your selection is my favorite of all your books!

Vince

Mary Preston said...

As a reader an imperfect hero is just super.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome back, Leslie. Well said on the hero we love to love.

Tell me about Simply the Best though. That's your latest release?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Okay, I got confused. Simply the Best is the name of the entire collection, not just your story. Got it!! What a deal!

Cindy W. said...

Thank you so much for your post today L.A. It is thought provoking and as you mentioned above, filled with nuggets. I would love to be entered into your giveaway. Thank you for the opportunity.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Thank you again to everyone for your prayers yesterday. All went well and hopefully I'll start feeling better.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Leslie and welcome back to Seekerville. What a great post with terrific ideas to make that hero a true hero. sigh. Who doesn't love a wonderful hero?

Great suggestions. And thanks for the offer of books for $.99. Sounds like a winner of a deal.

Have fun today.

Julie Lessman said...

LESLIE, WELCOME BACK TO SEEKERVILLE, MY FRIEND!! And, YOWZA, any post on heroes and I am all in!! ;)

LOL over the "pet-the-dog" moment!! I'm actually using that right now in my current WIP because the hero is a player, but I didn't know what it was called. :)

And thank you about the whine warning. I have to be careful in my current WIP because the hero blackmails the heroine (a shy and gentle romance ghost writer) into helping him win his ex-girlfriend back, so he tends to object to some of the heroine's suggestions and might come off whiny, so thanks for the warning!

One way that I made a hero more palatable was in my first book, A Passion Most Pure. The hero was a bad boy (I love bad boys, apparently, unlike you! ;), so I softened him in the readers' eyes with a number of pet-the-dog scenarios (defending the heroine on the playground from a bully when they were kids, playing ball with the kids in the neighborhood where he runs the bases with a crippled boy on his shoulders), keeping his mouth shut with his nagging mother out of respect when he wants to tell her off, allowing him to fit into the heroine's family as a fun, lovable addition, a deep friendship with another guy in the army, etc.

Fun post, Leslie!

Hugs,
Julie

Vince said...

.
What is your hero’s kryptonite?

Audra Harders said...

Hey Leslie, welcome back to Seekerville. Simply The Best is a great eclectic collection. What a wonderful idea to take the winning entries of a contest and compile them into a collection. Hmm, kinda reminds me of how the Seekers came together, LOL!

So, what's it like working with authors you really don't know, compiling stories so different than your own??

Wilani Wahl said...

Thank you for this great post. It was very helpful and so important

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I love Vince's question.... "What is your hero's Kryptonite?"

:)

Leslie, thank you so much for being here! Welcome back!

We've got pouring rain and thunder here in upstate New York, and lush green forest and fields have replaced winter/spring grays and browns.... So I'm working on a Christmas novella for a collection, and it's so fun to write snow and wind during wind and rain!

Leslie, I'm taking this to heart for my hero, Jed.... What are his flaws? What are his goals? He and I are just getting to know each other, so this has come at the perfect time!

Thank you for that!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

You know a bad boy I love????

Jason Bourne.

I am so sympathetic to this rogue, programmed murderer because it's like Darth Vader... I sens e the good in him!!!!

And Jason just wants to find his own true self, and gets so close.... but then always must avenge the wrongs around him.

I loved how NCIS ended the season with Tony leaving this year... it was the "anti" Gibbs policy of avenging the world.... and moving on.

While Gibbs is tortured, Tony's decided to move in a different direction for very good reason.

Two heroes with love and respect for one another, and moving along differing paths. Even though both share a core of integrity, grit and honor.

I love to see those subtle nuances played out in heroes. It makes or breaks the story for me.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi VINCE,
Thanks for your superhero kind words. No, seriously. You've always been that kind of guy. You are always looking out for your friends. Helping them.

Thanks, also for your input on what makes a hero a hero. AND for your ideas for my new cozy series. Have you ever been to Black Canyon of the Gunnison? WOW, what a setting. I love the train, we take the drive over the Million Dollar Highway and that is SPECTACULAR.

Hugs,
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi MARY,
Great line! Made me smile, and that's a feat this early.
Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi TINA,
It's always wonderful to be here at Seekerville. I love you all.

Yes, Simply The Best ~ A Collection of International Digital Winning Novels is a mouthful of a title :)

My WIP is Prince of Granola :)

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi CINDY,
I'm glad you found a nugget or two. Thanks for saying so. I always wonder if I offer anything that is helpful.

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi SANDRA,
It's always fun here. This blog always rocks. It's my pleasure to offer the books!

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

JULIE,
I read your post a couple of times. And I think I do love fictional bad boys, I just don't know how to write them. But in real life, I got singed a few times by them :)

Great info you posted about how you made your heroes work. ALWAYS interested to see what people do to solve problems and keep true to their characters.

Pet The Dog, Save The Cat, are really useful tools to put in your arsenal...
xo
L

Marianne Barkman said...

Leslie Ann, you ALMOST make me change my mind about spending money on EBooks, since you have one in the set.
I love reading..whether it's the finished product, how to get there or readers comments. Thanks for a great post!

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hey VINCE
I so want to answer your question about Kryptonite, but I have to hit the road. I'll be back online in a bit :)

Hugs
L

Myra Johnson said...

Great post, Leslie Ann! I'm totally with you on loving not-so-super heroes. Real mean with real flaws but finding the faith and strength to overcome them and win the heart of the woman they love.

One of my personal favorites to write about was Gilbert in Whisper Goodbye. He lost a leg in the Great War and came home bitter. But the love of a spunky Irish nurse helped him find his way again.

And you're absolutely right--even when the hero is emotionally scarred, you need that "pet the dog" or "save the cat" incident to show his true heart.

Vince said...

HEADS-UP!

Last night I read in my “Inspired Reads” email that Ruth’s “Back in the Saddle” is on sale for just 1.99. I believe this is a Random House imprint so don’t expect it to be on sale often. I wouldn’t let the sun set on this deal.

Caryl Kane said...

Nothing like a little Hero worship for a Thursday morning! Thanks for the great post.

Please put me in the drawing for an ebook copy of Simply The Best.

Vince said...

Hi L.A.:

You asked, “Have you ever been to Black Canyon of the Gunnison?”

I really don’t know. We drove through Gunnison on our way to the Crested Butte writer’s conference. It was one of the great drives of our lives. We tried to ride the train in Durango but it was sold out!


The really nice thing about a cozy mystery is, while many will not read romances or westerns, most everyone enjoys mysteries -- especially if they like the setting. I’ve read all of Nevada Barr’s books because of the National Park settings and all of Donna Leon’s books because I love the Venice setting.

Vince

Clari Dees said...

Oooh! I love these tips! My current hero is a former preacher's kid who has developed a bit of a bad boy image. :-) I'm going to keep these things in mind as I edit. Thank you for the post. Off to Amazon to check on the Simply the Best collection. :-)

DebH said...

this is an AWESOME post Leslie Ann. I also love the fact that you are writing a Colorado setting. Native of CO (currently transplanted on east coast *sigh*). I love reading about my home state.

I am going to refer back to this often when I'm working on my flawed heroes. Pet-the-dog indeed!!

No need to put me in the draw. Wanted instant gratification and purchased Simply the Best via the link.

Gotta love Seekerville!!!!! All the learning and awesome advice available is tops. Love ya Ladies!!!!!

Janet Dean said...

LESLIE ANN, welcome back! Your post gave us writers some terrific pointers on writing heroes our readers will identify with and love. In The Bounty Hunter's Redemption, my last book, the interactions between the hero and heroine's son were "Save the Cat" moments that helped change the heroine's opinion of the hero and hopefully the reader's, too. The fun part was her attraction to him added more conflict for her because the last thing she wanted was to fall for the man who could ruin her life. It's fun to see "Save the Cat" moments ease external conflict while upping the heroine's internal conflict. That way, those "Save the Cat" moments don't make them fall in love too soon. :-)

Janet

Janet Dean said...

LESLIE ANN, my DH and I have taken the train from Durango to Silverton and loved the view. As a writer of historical novels I loved the experience of riding in a steam engine pulled train and walking between the cars. The soot was very real, too. LOL

We also visited the Black Canyon. Very unique. Our country is beautiful with a rich array of settings.

Janet

Mary Connealy said...

I love this. I read every word. And it is hard to write heroes who are flawed and still heroic.

You know I always wish in the Superman and superhero movies they wouldn't give the superheroes super villains to fight. I mean if they just left the villains to be normal human beings Superman could really clean this world up and have it running all nice.

Which would be a good thing.

Mary Connealy said...

The heroes in my books are all cowboys and a primary motivating factor in cowboys is...they almost never even SEE a woman. Not on the frontier.

So when they do see one, to want her and call it love (in a Christian man) is almost instant.

There's one woman. I want her. BOOM.

Because of that my men tend to be no nonsense. Very much YOU'RE MINE.

Once in a while they're not like that, burned by love or otherwise determined to stay single....such as Vince in Stuck Together...but mostly my heroes are willing and eager to claim a woman.

It's the women who cause the trouble. Often because (shocker) they don't particularly WANT to be claimed. Also they see scads of men, they're surrounded by them. It's possible they get proposed to all the time. In Cassie Dawson's case, about thirty times in one day, while standing on the freshly filled grave of her dead husband.

So, anyway, flaws.

Gage Coulter in Fire and Ice is stubborn and a borderline tyrant.

Heath Kincaid in No Way Up wants to go home and re-unite with his family. The woman he wants has to stay on her ranch or she and her brothers lose everything.

Matt Tucker the mountain man in Now and Forever has resolved to never marry because he loves his wild life, has no interest in changing it and he's seen how hard that life is on a woman.

Chance Boden has neglected his son to the point he almost lost him. Finally almost healed from the grief over his wife's death, he and his son meet a beautiful woman who makes Chance feel as if he's betrayed his wife. And that woman clearly wants his SON more than she wants him. And he almost let someone else steal his son. He's not going to risk that again.

Jeanne Takenaka said...

L.A., what a great post. :) I love your suggestions. And finding the flaws in our hero and using them is such a great tip. I don't write perfect heroes. I much prefer the ones that have a bit of a past to work through and have "issues" they need to resolve. But I like them strong in their convictions. :)

One tip Susan May Warren offers in creating our characters (hero and heroine) is to give them competing values, and then make them have to choose with each obstacle they face. I'm working to get better at this.

And for the record, we've been to the Black Canyon outside Gunnison, and it's awe-inspiring. I haven't ridden the Durango train yet, but the drive from Gunnison to Crested Butte is breath-taking. Ouray is beautiful too. :)

I live in Colorado, and I love it. Can you tell? ;)

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

HEY, I found internet for a moment. I'll answer all of you b/c your posts are awesome.

But I wanted to get to Vince's Kryptonite. I call it the fatal flaw...or actually I should say Laurie Schenbly Campbell calls it that. It comes from his personality, it's the one thing emotionally he will avoid at all costs, even if it makes him leave the love of his life. In Viking Gold , Hermann loves Abby but is so deathly afraid of losing her to her high risk life style, he'd rather leave her than be unable to protect her.

Laurie bases these characters traits on enneagrams and it is a great system, but I get so wrapped up in the minutiae that I get so bogged down and try to make the enneagram fit. But if you use it with broad strokes it's a wonderful tool.

It totally created the internal conflict in that book.

I'm off, but I'll be back this afternoon. Keep thinking flaws :)
Hugs
L

Debby Giusti said...

Leslie, thanks for sharing your great insight on heroes! You've provided wonderful...and useful information!

I don't write super heroes, but my guys are protectors who open car doors and will do anything to keep the heroines safe. L)

Loved your story premise with two old friends going after the same goal...and he's all business. Such delightful conflict. Sounds like a Hallmark Movie I'd love to watch!

Congrats on your success. Always a joy to have you with us in Seekerville.

Hugs!

Janet Dean said...

JEANNE, we had lunch in Ouray last year on our way through. It was a nifty little town with a beautiful setting.

Janet

Jeanne Takenaka said...

We have so many beautiful mountain towns in Colorado, Janet. :) I'm not bragging, or anything. ;)

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

JANET and JEANNE,
Yup, Colorado is amazing. We were driving along I-25 this morning and the snow in the back range is deep! Yet it was 83 degrees. Can't wait to start my cozy mystery series here in my mythical ski town. Looks like Breckenridge, but with Aspen's panache.

Hugs
LA

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi DEBBY,
Thanks for kind words. I love being here. I hope the conflict works out...Hallmark, here I come...put in a good word for me, eh?

Hugs right back!!
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

JEANNE, in what part of Colorado do you live? I'm in Boulder.

I like the competing values idea...want to tell us more? I have SMW's KISS AND TELL or whatever her new title for the book is, but I have yet to really dig in deep.

Hugs,
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

MARY, WOW you are the conflict queen. I bow to you.

QUESTION, do you figure the plot first and then know the characters will have these conflicts?
I mean other than the quotient of men to women?

Hugs,
LA

Tina Radcliffe said...

What are you working on next, Leslie? What's a typical writer day like for you? I ask as I am now writing full time and I find that I live in my office chair. I am struggling to find balance.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

JANET, YES!! on Save the Cat moments giving one side or the other more conflict. Or make the character more conflicted.

ALSO, STC/PTD moments can be used for the antagonist. Great for adding another layer and for confusing another character and reader.

Hugs
LA

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

DEB-H!! Thanks for your super kind words and I hope you enjoy the Collection and of course BE MINE THIS CHRISTMAS NIGHT, set in Boulder. What part of Colorado are you from? East Coast is a different animal for sure.

AND yes, I love the ladies and guests of Seekerville, it's comfortable, you learn and people love to help.

Hugs
LA

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

CLARI DEES...Wow, I'm so glad I could offer you some tips that resonated.

I hope you like the collection. It really is a bargain. And we planned it that way b/c we wanted to introduce readers to authors they may not already know.

Hugs
LA

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

VINCE, I certainly hope you're right about cozy mysteries/mystery genre.

WHAT DO THE REST OF YOU THINK? "The really nice thing about a cozy mystery is, while many will not read romances or westerns, most everyone enjoys mysteries -- especially if they like the setting. I’ve read all of Nevada Barr’s books because of the National Park settings and all of Donna Leon’s books because I love the Venice setting."

Hugs
LA

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

CARYL,
Glad you liked the post. And by commenting you're in the drawing pool.

Hugs,
LA

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

TINA,
When I first left my day job which was P/T at a bank...sucked the life blood right outta me, but it provided health insurance and a pension and a 401K...anyway I turned to writing full time. I about killed myself in 3 years. I was so focused on the word count etc, that I pushed away all the other things I loved doing. Even my husband was worried about me.

I wasn't very nice either :)

This year, I'm only producing one book. I haven't quite wrapped my head around that, and I feel guilty a lot of the time. But I reached a burnout stage and knew if I didn't cut back I'd get sick.

So congrats on writing full time....I think :) My advice other than remember there is life outside your office, is to find a time to write that works for you and others in your life. Unless you want to treat it as a job and go to an office. You're a night owl, maybe that's a time to write when you don't impact your family or your health, like getting enough exercise and sunshine.

I'm at the age where I don't want to forgo the joys of no schedule to that rigid schedule again. And frankly I think the rigid schedule impacted my writing. No time to think outside the box for characters etc.

Okay enough of this tome :)
xo
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

MYRA, Yes, I think STC/PTD is a great tool in a writer's tool box and offer up even more potential for crises/conflict/confusion for the character who witnesses the gesture.

The Civil War book sounds wonderful and a kleenex box may be needed, eh?

Hugs
LA

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

MARIANNE,
I love paperbacks, but I just don't have the room any more to store them. And my paperback costs so much more than my e-book. Not my choice, but the costs of printing.

NOW on the other hand, if I need a HOW-TO Book, it's nearly always paperback, unless I'm in crisis mode and need answers now, then I'll buy the e-book.

Hugs
LA

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

TINA,
Oh, and I don't have a typical day anymore. I love to write in the mornings but often end up writing at night which is good as well b/c distractions are done :) I do get up and move often and I also move my laptop to a stand-up desk as well.

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

WILANI,
I'm glad you found the post helpful. Thanks for commenting :)
Hugs
L

Tina Radcliffe said...

Stand up desk. Be still my heart.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

I craft standing up as well. It feels better to stand than sit. It's takes a bit of practice to think/create standing up :)

Cynthia Clement said...

Great blog Leslie.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Cynthia,
Glad you're here.

Hey GUYS, Cynthia is one of the authors in the Collection!!

Hugs
L

Jackie said...

I love, "a hero doesn't whine." Great! Thanks for sharing!

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi JACKIE,
Glad you liked the post :) It was fun to write.
Hugs,
LA

Chill N said...

An interesting post, Leslie. A few good flaws can make such a difference in the believability of the character for me.

"A hero doesn't whine" made me laugh out loud.

Nancy C

marilyn leach said...

I like your post, LA. Good advice. My character, Berdie, a vicar's wife, has to constantly battle with her impulsive tongue. Throughout the series, she's learning to soften her responses, but she still comes out with a few that rock the boat. Fun to write. Cheers

Rebecca McLafferty said...

These comments are all intriguing. We love to love our hero and hate our antagonist. Making them "real" is so important. We all have flaws, some of us more than others. Seeing how the main characters overlook each other's flaws to "fall in love" makes the story deeper and makes it ring true to me. We all have issues from the past, and that's something that my main characters overcome. I love that! Great post. I really enjoyed it, and all the comments, too! Blessings to Seekervillers!!

Lisa Potocar said...

Highly entertaining post, Leslie Ann! Loved the superhero analogy and the techniques for crafting believable characters. As they say: You learn something new every day, and I have you to thank for today's intelligence!!

BTW, if Ruth Logan Herne is reading this--too funny--I live in Upstate New York and my husband's name is Jed! How's that for small world coincidences?

Lisa Potocar said...

Ooops! Forgot to say, Leslie Ann, to count me out of your drawing for your "Simply the Best" collection of novels. I already have mine, and I loved your "Be Mine This Christmas Night"! Can't wait to read the others. . .

mary hagen said...

Great Post with useful suggestions. Thanks. Mary Hagen