Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

Heroes- sweet or sexy? February 28, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 3:21 pm
Tags: , , , ,

davidgandy3091I’ve been thinking about internal conflict and Luk’s motivation, and it’s changed him a lot. I noticed as I was writing that he was becoming softer, less hard edged Alpha, more the sort of man I’d marry in real life (if I wasn’t happy with the DH, of course), only better. Far better looking, taller, a helluva lot richer and more successful.

I love the new Luk! Only problem is, his internal conflict seems to be disappearing by the minute. He’s just too ready to fall in love with Gabriella, so what is there to keep them apart? Maybe this is going to be one of those stories where it looks like it’s all going to be fine halfway through then the really big conflict whams them. Problem is, I have no idea what that conflict is going to be! One plan was going to be that he didn’t want to stay in his birth country, where Gabi, as the Princess, must stay. And that he was emotionally walled in after the death of his first love, so he would let Gabi so close but no further. They could have a relationship, especially when circumstances force marriage on them, but love wasn’t part of the deal. I’m just not sure now. He isn’t coming across as a man who is emotionally closed off!

He is definitely not a Presents/ Sexy/ Modern hero any more, the line I was originally aiming for. He’s now very much a Romance hero, for the sweet and tender line. The guidelines for the Romance line are different depending if you look on the North American Harlequin site or the UK Mills and Boon site!

The US site says this about the Romance hero, they call him the “Tender Alpha”-

Hero: He’s always strong and charismatic, successful in his own way and aspirational — a man you’d want to be with! Tower of Strength: He has a steely core, is not easily manipulated and uncompromising about the things that matter
Aspirational: The guy with whom women aspire to spend the rest of their lives with; definitely Mr. Right
Code of Honour: He has a strong sense of right and wrong, is reasonable and fair
Sense of Humour: He can laugh at himself and life; he’s often understated and modest in manner
Status: Definitely successful, can be wealthy or just comfortably off; perhaps a specialist in his field
Examples of the Tender Alpha Male in Film/TV: Nick (Dermot Mulroney) in The Wedding Date; Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

I like this hero! Whether I can write him or not is another matter. Whether I can give Luk and Gabi a convincing and emotionally real conflict (and one the Richmond editors will like too!) is another matter again. The only ideas I have now for conflict are so outrageous that I am getting into very different territory. I know it has to hinge on his sense of honour, on doing what he sees as morally and ethically right, that steely and uncompromising core. The risk in making him a softer hero is that he becomes less of the driver of events. He still needs to be in command, he needs to be the one making things happen. Gabriella too, of course, but my feeling is it is very much his issues or his decisions that force situations.

Hmm. It’s a challenge. I don’t want to keep on writing and find I’ve written myself into a dead end.  But I don’t want to stop writing yet again to figure this out either. No way am I going to meet my self-imposed deadline of submitting a partial by March 31st, if I keep going as I’m going. I want to just write, and hope the characters tell me the story. Magical thinking? You bet!

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4 Responses to “Heroes- sweet or sexy?”

  1. Hi mulberry! I think my heroes tend to be sweet alphas. Definitely go-after-it kind of guys, protectors one and all, but they have a softer side, usually brought out by the heroine. Good luck finishing the book! You can do it…I’m on the same path, so maybe we can encourage each other!!

  2. waitingforthecall Says:

    Hey Stephanie! Thanks for dropping by. My hero is developing a harder edge, as he’s just discovered a terrible secret crime from ten years previously. Being the man of honour he is, he must see justice done. But he’s still going to stay sweet at heart, and that protective instinct will be there to keep the heroine safe from danger.

    I love the cover of your book! We don’t get Love Inspired here in the UK, think I will order your book from eHarl- is “Perfect Target” in ebook?

  3. Eileen Says:

    I just read a novel that sounds like your protagonist! (Although historical and I’m sure you could do better than this novel’s abrupt turn of face). The novel was Border Moonlight by Amanda Scott (published by Grand Central not Harlequin), set in 14th century Scotland.

    The hero starts off depicted as “revenge seeking” because of how the heroine disgraced him years ago. But then, seemingly without notice, her constant presence grows on him to the point where he’s stealing kisses and wouldn’t mind marrying her. He’s all for it! — but now the problem lies with her: her need for independence.

    However, what I would love to see as a reader is that once he’s overcome his prejudices, his prior actions have made her prejudice toward him! I’d love a heroine that frustrates her hero because she doesn’t believe he can be sweet and soft even when he’s behaving exactly that way. 🙂

  4. waitingforthecall Says:

    Hmm, you are so right about that! I hate those stories where the hero is a total bastard to the heroine all the way through, and then just because he says he loves her she melts? Come on! I know a man desiring us is attractive, but in too many stories that appears to be the hero’s only redeeming feature. The only time that happens in real life is in abusive relationships. And if a guy who has been abusive suddenly becomes sweet, the natural response is to supsect it- “Okay, what does he want now?”, not “Oh, he’s wonderful, I love him too.”
    It’s just so important that even though the hero might behave badly to the heroine (for what has to be a damn good reason!), she sees him showing kindness to other characters.
    That won’t be an issue with my hero as it is sweet sweet sweet all the way now! I realised I had yet again become too focused on external conflict at the expense of the real juicy internal relationship based conflict. So the whole revenge subplot has had to go.
    It sounds to me like you have some characters and a plot of your own brewing there- have fun with it!


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