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!

Would you still respect him if… December 21, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 12:14 am
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Okay, I’m supposed to be doing character developement for Adam and Kate, and I am, honest! Though poor Kate is getting just a little neglected.

I’ve spent waaaaaay too long looking at hero photos.

Can’t quite decide if Adam is the boy next door gorgeousness of Steve Leonard-

or the smouldering sexiness of Dylan McDermott-

Tough decision, hey?

At least I know what sort of car he drives and which leg was shattered by the bomb blast. so some progress has been made.

I think Steve Leonard suits Adam best, though Dylan is definitely getting a starring role in one of my stories soon!








But while I was in the bath I got thinking about Luk and Emma, my rejected Presents contest entry (I find it hard to let go of old characters).

I eventually want to rewrite their story as a Sweet Romance. But I wonder if part of the problem (besides the crap writing, crap dialog, and the fact that nothing happens in the whole chapter apart from Luk and Emma talking) is that essentially, Luk’s motivation appears unheroic.

His primary motivation is to avoid  a responsibility- becoming prince of his small island birth country. Heros are meant to shoulder responsibilities, not avoid them!

Does that make him not really hero material?

His reasons, in order of the likelihood of him admitting it to himself or anyone else are-

  1. he has a billion dollar multinational business, that he couldn’t run if he was prince
  2. he doesn’t want to go back to the small town life of the island, especially being with his overwhelming large family again
  3. going back means confronting memories from his painful past- especially his guilt over not being able to prevent the death of his first wife

He’s not completely bunking off from responisbility. When the tragic and unexpected deaths of the other heirs to the throne put him next, he searches for another heir, knowing that the prince who disappeared after the Second World War may have descendants somewhere. And if it was choosing to give up his life and become prince or see his country taken over by a neighbouring kingdom, he’d make that sacrifice. But if making a marriage of convenience with the female missing heir and then leaving her to run the country while he gets on with his own life solves everyone’s problems, he’ll do it.

So, the question is, can he behave like that and still be a hero, or is that just not what a hero would do?

 

What makes an Alpha hero? November 29, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 12:14 am
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My brilliant friend Aideen emailed this yesterday-

It was a documentary on men. Not just any old men, men that were bullied as children and had turned their lives around by becoming….Body Builders! One man, a very attractive man, offered up some advice. I wrote it down. Now I’m putting it up here.

Mark Something or other had the following to say;

“The true Alpha male is not a bully or a brute. He is the guy who is first to lead the charge for a worthy cause. He is supremely equipped, physically and mentally, to fight for success in the ultra-competitive world we inhabit.
The true Alpha male embodies the best characteristics of the male of our species, namely rugged outer qualities such as muscularity, strength and power, but also inner qualities such as confidence (without conceit), courage (without recklessness), committment and a conscience.
The true Alpha male has the combination of physical and mental toughness but also a concern for other humans as a whole.
A true Alpha male meets the ideal of contemporary masculine excellence. In other words, the true Alpha male has all the core qualities of a hero.”

There, what do you think about that? I realise it’s nothing we don’t already know but I think this guy summed it up pretty neat.

I love Mark’s description. That is soooooooo what I want my heroes to be.

Not the obnoxious Alphole stereotype I seem to create when I try to Alpha them up.

(I can’t reference this quote properly, as I don’t know for sure where it comes from and neither does Aideen. If anyone knows the name of the speaker and the documentary it’s from, please let me know so I can give them credit!)

For a funnier look at the Alpha hero, try Sally Clement’s list of Don’ts for Romance Heroes.

 

Hero material? July 10, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 9:45 pm
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I’m reading the new Modern Heat guidelines on eHarl. They say –

 

Upmarket, glossy and sharply contemporary, these stories sparkle with lively dialogue and sizzling sensuality! They offer all the international glamour, passion and alpha-male heroes you expect from Modern/Presents, with a flirty young voice and a whole load of sass! Written by talented, original authors such as Heidi Rice, Natalie Anderson, Kelly Hunter, Kimberly Lang, Anne Oliver, Anna Cleary and Lucy King, these entertaining romances reflect the life experiences of today’s young women, within a chic, glamorous and usually urban setting. The heroines are often your twenty-something girl-about-town but there’s no compromising on the Modern Heat hero: he must be very alpha and absolutely to die for! There’ll be sparks flying when these two meet—and nothing short of fireworks once they get to the bedroom!

We are on the lookout for new authors who can convey that young urban feel with 21st-century characters, simmering sexual and romantic tension and, of course, that all-important hot sex!

 

Eek! “Very alpha”? Just when I got used to the idea that MH heroes were “alphas in training”!

 

I’ve already linked to the excellent thread on Alpha heroes on Kate Walker’s blog. Myself, I find the Alpha hero a bit scary, even though Kate writes them so well and they eventually show that vulnerability at their core they’ve been working so hard to protect. I’m more of a “highly successful beta hero” type girl. There’s a great discussion on the more beta hero here on eHarl.

Jeannie Watts, a Harlequin Superromance writer, says-

I don’t have a lot of hero groveling because that was what always happened in the 1970’s Presents and I want to escape from stereotype island.  I prefer to never have a hero in a situation where he’s been so insensitive that he has to grovel.  (Not that I don’t enjoy reading a good grovel every now and then-it’s just not an instinctive way for me to plot a story.)  Instead I have him confess more than anything.  He tells the heroine what he’s come to understand about himself.  She can either accept it or not.

I like that idea. The alpha can’t grovel and stay Alpha. Any more than the heroine should be expected to grovel. A strong man needs a strong woman. But he does need to change and grow and realise that keeping on going the way he’s been going will only lead to a sterile empty and loveless life. The problem I have is- does he have to be a total bastard first? Is it enough to be a mega-sucessful, part workaholic part playboy, living life only for himself, until he comes to realise that living like that will cost him the most important thing in his life- the love of the heroine?

 

More on the Alpha hero May 1, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 12:04 am
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I’ve spent the day thinking about my hero, Luk, today, especially his motivations and relationship blocks. I don’t feel I have a good enough handle yet on what his internal conflicts are before I start writing.

So I went back to the Kate Walker blog series on the Alpha hero. Plenty to think about here!

I have cut excerpts from the posts that resonated with me, and a response for how that might relate to Luk and my story. I got a load of new ideas about Luk, his background, his fears, and how that might affect the story. Plus a couple of completely outrageous possibilities that could be fun to play with…

 

  

That’s the sort of situation, the conflict, that your hero ends up in. That’s the man whose story you are telling. The man who is reacting to a crisis and to what he feels needs to be done to sort it out. And because you pitch him against a heroine who throws him totally off balance because he experiences feelings for her that he has never known before. And possibly because he feels that she is completely the wrong person to feel those emotions about, then his reactions – good or bad – are even more intense, even more heightened. He’s in a situation that is out of his comfort zone, where the way he’s lived up to know, the coping techniques he’s used, the things that have worked in the past, no longer work. He’s dealing with different sorts of dangers – emotional dangers – the ones that can break hearts. Kate Walker
He’s never felt in love before, never felt so protective. (Maybe I need to make all his sisters older, as he would naturally have felt protective to his little sister- saved them from bullies and bad boyfriends the like.) This does throw him off balance.
Also, the element of her being the “wrong person”. I did toy with the idea of making Emma’s character totally different, at least appearing to be something he disapproves of and unsuitable to be Princess, so he has an internal conflict right there. Can he foist this woman onto his country to avoid taking on the responsibility of being Prince? Meanwhile, Emma is going to see him as irresponsible and selfish. Is the fact that she is his second cousin and heir to the throne enough to make her the “wrong person”? 

 

He controls his world. Nothing can shake it… but, of course, something will. A woman. One very special woman. And once he meets her, his life will never again be the same. He’ll do whatever it takes to bed her because sex is vital to him. He’s a man who likes women, enjoys being with them, knows how to be an out-of-this-world lover. But being in love, admitting to it? That’s different. It’s probably the one thing that terrifies him, though he’d never admit it. A man in love is not a man in control of his feelings. That realization will shake him to the core.
Still, not even he will be able to deny his feelings forever and when he finally admits he wants that one special woman, not just now but for all time, watch out! He’ll move heaven and earth to win her and keep her… and that will bring into play all those sexy qualities that make him the man he is, a man women everywhere adore. Sandra Marton

This is Luk’s main internal conflict- admitting he is in love. He sees love as a weakness, as losing control. Initially, he’ll risk losing her, because he can’t admit it, even to himself. His self image is based on always being the one in control. It’s going to be very difficult for him to let go of that.

 

 For me an Alpha hero is a guy who gets the job done. It’s as simple as that. He’s honorable and reliable and dependable. He’s the one who — despite what he says or what anyone else says — will never let you down. Even if he doesn’t want to do it, he will do what needs to be done. And because he’s competent, he succeeds.
He doesn’t have to be brutal or arrogant or wealthy or a bully to do any of that.
He is not, however, perfect. Usually he’s anything but. I guess you could make a hero brutal, arrogant and a bully and reform him, but it doesn’t particularly interest me. What interests me is seeing him find the courage to face his own flaws and overcome them — getting that job done. That’s what makes him truly and fully an Alpha hero in my book. Anne McAllister

This is Luk for sure. He doesn’t want to take on the job of being Prince, but he finds the lost rightful heir. He doesn’t want to have to rescue Emma from the kidnappers, but because he can, he does. And he got her into the danger, so his sense of honour won’t let him leave her there. He’ll sacrifice a little bit of his freedom, in the marriage of convenience. But the biggie is giving her the ultimate control, admitting that he loves her, that he wants to make the marriage real. He can’t do that and stay the man he thinks he is, can he?

 

 In his personal life? Here’s where his cynicism creeps in. A man who is so wealthy, powerful, good looking and single can take his pick from the countless beautiful women who throw themselves at him – which does not mean that he does. Discernment is the key to my alpha hero. To simply take a woman because she is there for the taking is, in his view, as bad as a woman selling herself for money. My Alpha Hero would have way too much pride and respect in himself to do that.
Which means he isn’t stupid. When it comes to his deeper emotions he keeps them securely locked away from all the mercenary vultures out there he knows are waiting to pounce on him.
A hardened cynic about women then? No. My Alpha hero has a romantic streak which lives deep in the very core of his makeup. He wants to love and be loved – for himself. Some might call it his fatal flaw, because when that one particular woman does come along and breaks through the emotional protection he wears around his deeper feelings, he becomes as vulnerable and as unsure of himself as any man recognising that he’s falling deeply in love. He’s wary, suspicious. He does not want to be caught out and made a fool of by some feline vulture wearing an angel’s mask. So from the moment he meets her he’s fighting both her and himself. Hence the conflicts he has with himself and the heroine, hence the ups and downs in their relationship as they proceed towards the inevitable outcome.
The bottom line? My Alpha hero does not choose his life’s mate with his eyes or his libido. He chooses with his carefully guarded heart. And when he mates, he seriously mates for life. Michelle Reid

This is Luk, exactly. He’s successful, powerful, discerning. He’s used to women throwing themselves at him. He didn’t start off cynical, he became cynical, suspicious of motives, because of that. He fears falling in love and losing control, but he also longs for it, longs to find the woman worthy of his love. He will resist surrendering to this love when he meets her. His main turning point is that moment when he realises it is her he wants, more than anything else in the world. When he’s willing to open himself up to that vulnerability and potential loss of control. That’s why I loved the story where the hero goes to find the heroine at the end and kneels before her- the ultimate gesture of surrender.

 

 But all my heroes tend to be demanding (both in bed and out!). They know what they want (or think they do). They’ll do whatever they have to do to get it (from seduction, to a bit of light-hearted blackmail, to kidnapping) and they’ll be totally focussed on their goal (which is the heroine… what could be sexier than that, right). And like all great alphas they’re also protective, nurturing and honourable. To which you’re probably saying, ‘hey, hang on a mo, how can a guy be honourable and then blackmail someone?’
The answer is simple, they have to believe in their heart of hearts it’s the right thing to do. So here’s a top tip, when writing an alpha hero (or any hero) if he’s going to do something outrageous give him a very good motivation for doing it – so he can defend his behaviour to himself, and the heroine and the reader. Of course, that doesn’t mean the heroine’s going to buy it (and in my books they frequently don’t), but that’s all part of the delicious conflict you want to get steaming between these two.
You have to fall in love with this guy – and the reader has to fall for him too. So don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking that because he’s an alpha guy he can’t have a sense of humour, or be a fantastic cook, or be kind to children and puppies. Don’t let his alpha-ness limit you in creating your hero… Use it to make him that extra bit more gorgeous and larger than life, because let’s face it these are romantic fantasies – and the more romantic the better. Heidi Rice

So for Luk, this is about how he justifies his choices. He is doing what is right for everyone. But he does also have to be fall-in-lovable. I think with Luk it will be how he is with his nephews and nieces that shows his human side. Ack, just had a totally outrageous idea! Does Emma refuse to go and Luk kidnaps her, explaining that it’s a perfectly acceptable way of doing things in Melusia, and it’s for her own good and the good of the country? Whoooee! That would be fun! Wonder if two kidnaps would be a bit much? It could be quite funny really, when he is outraged that someone else would do exactly what he did in the first place. Hmm, I like the idea!

 

 He’s definitely on his way to success, if not already there; he can see the big picture rather than worrying about tiny details (though if you quiz him, you’ll discover he has a handle on absolutely everything). He works hard (mine have workaholic tendencies); he also plays hard (which is how come my current Modern Heat duet is called ‘To Tame a Playboy’). He’s charming and approachable, wants someone who’ll be his equal, and is quite likely to make an outrageous bet with the heroine. He cares about his family and will put them first. But getting him to admit to loving the heroine… that’s where the she’s going to have a hard time. He’s be completely up front right at the start and say he doesn’t believe in love, doesn’t do love, and he’ll offer her an affair with very defined limits. But when he falls, he falls hard. And my favourite bit is when a Modern Heat alpha finally admits he loves the heroine – because he’ll do it with style! Kate Hardy
Okay, the bit that really caught my eye is the italicised part. Maybe this is the piece I am missing about Luk. He doesn’t want to be Prince, so he finds Emma and installs her as Princess. So now he can go back to his old life right? No, cos then she’s kidnapped and he has to rescue her. Now can he go back to his old life? No, cos unless he marries her she can’t be Princess, which means he has to be Prince anyway. So her agrees to the marriage of convenience, she can be Princess, and he can go back to his old life, right? No, cos now he’s fallen in love. He wants it all now, his old life and Emma. Except he can’t have both. Emma has to choose. He has to choose.
Why doesn’t he “do” love? No massive tragedy. He grew up in a happy and loving family. His sisters are all happily married. But he’s been burned by too many golddiggers after his money. He’s seen friends make stupid choices over love, give up their own ambitions. Love is fine for other people, but not for him.

 

 An alpha male, to me, is a take-charge kind of guy. He’s powerful—maybe it’s because he’s wealthy or physically strong, but more often in my books it’s because he’s very talented, very intelligent, very competent. He’s a natural leader, the centre of everything, fiercely protective of his world. He often finds it difficult to trust, because that implies losing control in some way. I’ll put an alpha in a situation that’s completely new to him, and his usual straightforward “my way or the highway” of dealing with things just doesn’t work. My alpha heroes’ journey is always to understand what true power is—the cooperative power of trust, and the authentic power of self-understanding. Julie Cohen
This is more reinforcement of what I’d already been thinking- Luk’s central journey and the source of his internal conflict will be learning to trust, learning how to feel safe when he isn’t in control of every aspect of the situation.

 

 Above all, he’s always a hero even if it takes a story arc to get him through his reluctance to the point where he’s willing to make sacrifices or take risks for the sake of the heroine or a larger cause. Anna Campbell
Again, taking risks, the greatest risk of all, opening his heart and risking rejection.

 

 The Liz Fielding Alpha hero is strong, resourceful, the man who others will turn to in times of crisis. Arrogance may hide mental and physical scars but while he may seem distant, apart from other men, he will risk his own life without hesitation to save another. He will sacrifice his own happiness for those he loves. He will demand honour and courage to match his own from the woman he chooses to share his life, but he will be tender, loyal to death. For me a man is closest to being the perfect Alpha when he mirrors the attributes of the leader of the wolf pack. He is the hunter, lover, father, protector. The Alpha male makes the perfect Romance hero. And the perfect Romance heroine will match him for courage, honour and passion every step of the way. Liz Fielding
I think for Luk becoming this hero is his emotional journey. This is the man he is at the end of the book, but at the start his motivations are more selfish, he is unwilling to sacrifice his happiness. But Emma’s “courage, honour and passion” challenge him into becoming the fullness of who he can be.

 

 An alpha is a leader. He doesn’t wait for things to happen, he MAKES THINGS HAPPEN. Even if he makes a bad decision – he’ll be committed to it 100%.
Alphas might have that little bit of an edge that makes them seem sometimes hard or ruthless, but that is because they make decisions and stick to them.
Alpha heroes are also aspirational. They are always looking forward to the next achievement or opportunity. They are successful because they are driven. It is not enough to rest on their laurels. And this doesn’t have to be financial gain either. But they are forward thinkers. They are proactive.
Alphas live life on their own terms. It makes them exciting, powerful personalities.
Alphas don’t like to show their vulnerabilities, which is why when they finally do reveal their “scars” to the heroine, it has such an impact. Those vulnerabilities might simply be their feelings for the heroine, or they can be something more entirely. Donna Alward

Luk does decide on his course of action, and follow through totally. He doesn’t sit back and relax with what he has achieved, he is looking for more. And the bit about the vulnerabilities- that is exactly it. For Luk, letting Emma know how he feels is the biggest vulnerability of all.

 

 That sense of honour goes with pride – and maybe arrogance – but then these men have a lot to be proud about and they will fight to the death to defend it. Their attraction for the heroine may often seem to threaten that honour – but the good news for the heroine is that he’ll fight to the death for her too. Louise Allen
Luk’s self-image is very much that of the lone wolf. Why is that? Was it a defensive mechanism growing up the only boy amongst all those girls? I think perhaps his father was loving, but retreated to his books, leaving Luk without a real male role model. So falling in love with Emma threatens that completely. He is already in love with her when he proposes the marriage of convenience, but he won’t admit that.

 

 For me this means: a leader who cares about his men, a leader who has integrity, a leader who is strong and tough because he has to be. He has strength of will. He is willing to make the hard decisions and does not shirk from his responsibility. This is a man who understands there are lines which you do not cross. He lives by a code. But he is also someone who does not automatically give his respect. It has to be earned. And above, he requires a strong mate. Michelle Styles
Luk has integrity and honour, but is not fully ready to take on responsibility for others at the start of the story. By gaining respect for Emma, he learns to be more responsible, just as Emma learns to be lighter and more joyful. She needs to be a strong worthy mate for this man.

 

 

Well, that’s a lot of extra insight into my hero! And there are still more posts to come in that series. I love the generosity of published romance writers in sharing information and insight like that! Thank you!

 

Writing the Alpha hero April 21, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 10:39 pm
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hugh1 The wonderful Kate Walker has a too-good-to-miss series on the Alpha hero running at her blog. Lots of fab info on writing strong sexy heros, plus piccies of Hugh Jackman too! What’s not to love?

I may be quiet for a while because I am busy wrapping up things in my old job before I leave, and I’m also doing April Kihlstrom’s Book in a Week workshop. So far it is truly excellent, I’m learning loads and the way I see my story and characters has been totally transformed. The format is three weeks writing preparation, one week intensive writing, and a week on editing. The writing week just happens to be the week I’ve given myself off between jobs. It’s going to be fun!

 

More thoughts on The Hero’s Journey- the Ordeal and the Black Moment April 6, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 6:28 pm
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Um, I’m just thinking as I write here so it may not make sense or be just plain stupid, but it seems to me that the Ordeal is a descent into the dark places of the character’s own psyche, where they become fully aware of their deepest fears and their greatest challenges. To successfully negotiate the Ordeal, the character must be willing to confront their fears, to recognise the shadow within themselves. That cliched but so true phrase- “feel the fear and do it anyway”. If they feel the fear and back out, it’s game over. Fail. There is no reward.

But if they feel the fear and take the risk, things can and will still go wrong. The virgin may decide to go ahead and be intimate with the hero, despite her fears he is only using her, and have an mind-shatteringly wonderful experience. The Reward is only ever temporary. The next morning, she may wake up and find that yes, he is a scheming manipulative bastard who was only using her.

The true Black Moment is when everything the character most fears seems to have become reality, and whatever choice the character makes, it’s going to be terrible for them. The Black Moment is in fact the ultimate temptation, the moment when the character chooses whether to be true to themselves, or to become their shadow self. This must relate to the Ordeal, the deepest fear the character realised there, now come to pass. In the fight on the Death Star, Luke loses a hand, but that doesn’t sear his soul in the same way as the discovery that his vision in the cave was true- he and Vader are of the same essence, Vader is his father. He chooses to risk death rather than become his Shadow. 

So in the Ordeal, the character is asked to be willing to confront their worse fear, in the Resurrection, they do actually confront it and are reborn into the world. The old personality dies in a sense in the Ordeal, but the character isn’t actually reborn into their new purified and strengthened self until the Resurrection. Because they are still in the Special World, and not yet back in the Ordinary World. Got it! I think…

Now how that applies to Romance I’m not quite sure yet. In category romance, diferent lines will put differing emphasis on the hero’s journey and the heroine’s journey, some lines more focused on the hero, others on the heroine. There are two separate journeys, that may well be progessing at different rates, but they have to end up at the same place for the HEA. And running away from the Black Moment isn’t the answer. The heroine  or hero has to grow and mature, face and integrate their shadow self, and at the same time win the respect of the other (or in the case of the heroine dealing with the more Alpha hero, force him to respect her!). I think I am seeing why my Instant Seduction entry was rejected- the heroine ran away from her Black Moment.  The  character has to react to their ultimate trial in a way that proves them worthy of a real love, showing them to be a person of true integrity and courage. Luke had only two choices- join Vader or risk death. Hopefully our heroines have  a few more options!

A romance is not just a love story, it is a story of two human being’s emotional and personal growth. Jennifer Crusie’s definition of a Romance ties in well here.  “The medieval definition of a romance always involved a quest, and I think the modern romance does, too: the heroine’s quest for self-actualization. Until a woman finds out who she is and what she needs from life, she can’t really connect to another person as an equal. So the best romance novels always show a woman coming to her strength and fullness as a human being, and part of the reward for the fulfillment of that quest is a strong, equal life partner. “

And the way we come to that strength and fullness of self is through trial, through ordeal, through the darkness. Jung said “When we must deal with problems, we instinctively resist trying the way that leads through obscurity and darkness. We wish to hear only of unequivocal results, and completely forget that these results can only be brought about when we have ventured into and emerged again from the darkness.”

I’m just realising there was another issue that weakened my IS story, one that I think is common for newer romance writers. I didn’t link the stages of Ordeal and Black Moment together, I threw in a new problem to create the Black Moment. The problems didn’t really come organically enough from who the characters were, either, they did partially, but they were also a bit manufactured. I think that’s what’s known as a plot device, isn’t it?

Of course, I had heard of the Hero’s Journey, but hadn’t really thought about it back then, especially applied to Romance. I didn’t know what a black moment was either. I just knew there had to be a couple of places where it looks like the relationship has no chance! It’s exciting to see how far I’ve come in a year. Now, to just apply this to some writing…

 

Heroes- sweet or sexy? February 28, 2009

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