Friday, November 20, 2020

A Back to Basics Post: Focus on Heroes: How to develop characters with character.

 We all have our favorite characters in fact and fiction.

My real-life heroes tend to be actual heroes. The sacrificial type who really stand their ground for the sake of others. Jesus. John Adams. Ben Franklin. Mary, the mother of God. Joseph, who stood in place and cared for a son not his own. Mary Magdalene, Susanna and any woman who followed that cross and stood with Christ in His hour of need. Martyrs. Harriet Tubman. Rosa Parks. Mother Teresa. Every soldier and sailor who stormed those beaches at Normandy, knowing what would happen. And so many others...

Fiction is a different venue.

When we look at fictional heroes we use a different metric.

They don't have to be superheroes, changing the world for us to love them. But they need to be better versions of themselves and probably better than most any real person we know.

They put others first.

They take care of the heroine, even if she's pretty sure she doesn't need it.

They think ahead. (Come on, ladies, it's fiction. Of course they think ahead!)

They generally don't over-react unless there's a gun involved and it's a Western. In which case, we get it.

They're rarely grumpy even if they don't say too much.

They think a lot. (Again, fiction. Work with me here) :) 

They're quite teachable. (I'm thinking of Mary Connealy heroes here. They don't talk much, and they're often surprised by the feminine mystique, but they do think. #HERO!!!!)

They're kind to dogs and children, even if lacking experience with both or either.

They have a sense of humor. (Jason Bourne is an exception. I'm sure there are others.... Wait, so is Mr. Rochester but gosh, that was a TRAGIC LIFE!!!!!!!! Oh my stars)

They are often ruggedly handsome which means they wouldn't be seen on the Euro fashion runways wearing girl clothes. 

They're adorable when befuddled because they come through in the end.

They never let the bad guy win.

They get there in time, even if it's the nick of time. (Wait, Bourne is the exception again. Jason, really???????)

They may save lives. (doctors, sheriffs, officers, military, firemen)

They may build things. (Construction, builders, architects, Amish)

They might be farmers or ranchers.

High school football coaches are great, too! :) Rugged, teaching/coaching, competitive and good to kids. That's one that checks a lot of boxes!

Heroes pull us into stories whether they're male or female. We either identify with them or admire them or want to meet them. Live in their towns, their homes, eat at their table.

What draws you into characters? Is it what they've experienced? What they've overcome? What they're doing? Leave a comment below, darlings and I've got a copy of "Finding Her Christmas Family" for one lucky person who loves, loves, loves beautiful Christmas stories! 

Bestselling, multi-published author Ruth Logan Herne is living her dream of writing great stories on her pumpkin farm in Western New York where the leaves have fallen, winter's approaching, but at least it's tiptoeing in this year... not barreling full-force, so that's good! She's also wishing all of you a blessed and wonderful holiday season. She thinks we're blessed to have the lot o' youse (Yankee way of sayin' "all y'all") here and she loves to hear from you at or friend her on Facebook or stop by Ruthy's website 


  1. Great post, Ruthy! The trick is to have a flawed hero who remains heroic. Sometimes beginning writers (I did this), confuse flaws with weakness. Yes, they make mistakes, but they are always heroic.

    Oh my gosh, we're in the countdown to Thanksgiving! I hope everyone, in spite of COVID, will be able to share the day--if only virtually--with loved ones. Blessings to all!

    1. Agree on all counts. Even if it's scaled down loved ones.... or going outside our norms and taking food to shelters, etc. If we can't share our table, perhaps we can share our blessings.

  2. Hi Ruth:

    I believe that in a romance the hero or heroine needs to be someone the reader would like to be, at least during the vicarious experience of reading or remembering the story, or be someone the reader would want to have fall in love with them. It tends to be very personal.

    I also think that if the author can put the right elements in place and create those feelings in the reader, then almost any combination of those elements will work.

    Heroes and heroine can be ideal in themselves, like great actors, and yet if they are miscast, they can fail. The hero and heroine must be right for the story they are in and not just be the hero or heroine of the author's heart. It may not be the starts that make the hero but rather the constellations in which they appear. Even the best quality ingredients money can buy still have to be used in the right recipes.

    BTW: the woman on the cover of "Her Christmas Family" is my idea of a perfect in herself heroine! Love at first sight! Sweet, demure, a beautiful smile, eyes closed to the viewer, all peaches and cream, chubby cheeks, no fuss hair up, soft cuddly cashmere top, I just want to hug and love her forever. She is a heroine par excellence…but is she right for the story? Oh, I have to know! That hero better be good enough for her!!!


    1. Hey, want me to send you a True Large Print version so you can see if she's as good as the cover implies? Because I think she is!!!!!

  3. What a year this has been. Just wanting to update you on my life. I'm having major oral surgery in the operating room at the hospital. I'll be losing all my teeth. No Thanksgiving dinner for me. Hopefully I'll be able to have a milkshake. As soon as I heal from this surgery I will be having a knee replacement. I will appreciate prayers. Hopefully I'll be able able to start writing again when all this is done. Happy Thanksgiving.

    1. Oh, Wilani! Two major surgeries coming up? Girl, you need all of our prayers lifting you up!

      Keep us updated!

    2. Oh, Miss Wilani, I am so sorrowed to hear all of this. God bless you, sweet friend, and although I like milkshakes a lot, I am so sad to think of how tough this is going to be. Praying you forward!

    3. Wilani, thanks for letting us know. We'll be praying for you and sending love! You're going through a hard time. Know that we will be storming heaven for your quick recovery on both counts!

    4. Oh my, Wilani. I'm so sorry you are going through all this. I will be praying for you.

    5. I'll be praying for you to get through this, Wilani...and you will. But wow. God bless you.

  4. Thank you for the post! I like characters who I fell as if I can connect with. But I also like when they a have a sense of humor too.

    1. Angeline! Thank you for reminding me that I hadn't put up winners last week. OH MY STARS, it was a busy week with fundraising at the farm and I totally forgot. And I do advise you to LOOK in the Weekend Edition this week!

      And thank you for stopping by!

  5. This is a great look at heroes, Ruthy! Of course, you've written some of the best. :-)

    I like a hero who can see the big picture. His life may be falling apart, but if he can see God working and follow that beacon, he'll do well. A true hero sets his own safety/health/convenience aside for the sake of others.

    1. Jan, that's a great point. That oversight is a draw... and that's a trick when they've messed up for some reason, isn't it?

      And that term is total "Cowboy Code". Put others first. And put up your horse the right way. :)

  6. I was just thinking about why some characters really catch me and other's don't.
    I like some of mine better than others.
    I'm just not sure WHY. I make tough, feisty heroine mostly, but some are almost too tough, yet I love them. Other's are too tough and ... ultimately I find them too tough to be exactly likeable...admirable maybe, but not all that likeable.
    And I'm not sure why? Why is one right and the other wrong?
    Not that I DISLIKE them, I just am not fully satisfied by them.

    So then I start a new book and I am always trying (and not always succeeding) to make them fresh, different.
    I felt like I really managed that with the last series, those troublesome Brides of Hope Mountain. Very different kinds of woman.
    Now I'm on three sisters again and I want them all three to be unusually well educated and brilliant ... and maybe they don't exactly meet the expectations of the world to be 'normal.'
    I'm just not sure I'm handling it quite right!!!! grrrr

  7. I'm trying to write a parson/hero. First time ever.
    I'm not sure it's working but what I'm going for is the heroine is in BIG trouble and her goal is to find a really STRONG man to protect her from the trouble.
    To, in effect, stand in the gap between her and her cruel stepfather. But this parson is a wise, loving missionary who really doesn't have what the heroine sees as strength. So I'm trying to explore the difference between strength with a fist and guns and earthly power, which the heroine wants. And spiritual strength, the strength that comes from faith and wisdom and putting your life in the hands of an Almighty God.

    We'll see if I can pull it off!!!!

    1. Ah, this is an example of true strength.... as long as he pulls a gun, etc. as needed at some point! I love that this pastor will be the strength she needs eventually. This is a great idea. And the three sisters.... LOVE IT. BOTH TIMES!!!! You rock this, Mary.


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