Types of Heroes

Like Reese, I'm running late.  Unlike Reese, I can't claim blindness by mascara wand.  (Hope your eye is better, Reese!)  But I'm here and eager to blog about heroes and the different types we write about and read.

There are many different types of heroes, making it difficult to pick one or even two.  But like plots, there are standards on which heroes are based.  In The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes & Heroines- Sixteen Master Archetypes, authors Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever and Sue Viders list 8 hero archetypes.

  • The CHIEF
  • The BAD BOY
The list is definitely a good starting point, and each archetype has strengths and flaws.  But don't stop there,   because nobody, not even the heroes we create, should be pigeonholed into a specific "type."  For instance, what's wrong with a swashbuckling (fearless and exciting) professor (expert and analytical)?  Absolutely nothing!  Or what about a lost soul (devoted and vulnerable) chief (goal oriented and responsible)?  Or any other combination that suits the type of hero you like or would like to create.

My favorites to write are crosses between the Charmer, the Swashbuckler, and the Bad Boy, sometimes all used together, and sometimes used with other archetypes.  My favorites to read probably fall into those same archetypes, but I haven't yet mentally tagged them that way.  I have three super favorites that have never been dethroned, along with several others that made me sigh happily.  Those three include:

  • Nick DeAngelo in Only Forever by Linda Lael Miller.  Nick is an unforgettable hero for me.  He's a charmer, for sure, and although I was often not happy with the heroine's wishy-washy-ness where he was concerned, he's one of my top three favorite heroes.
  • Houston Leigh in Texas Destiny by Lorraine Heath.  Although I haven't read a lot of historical romances in more recent years, this one touched my heart.  Houston is a wounded hero (an archetype that's left out of the above list), both physically and emotionally.  In spite of it, he's a beautiful character and totally unforgettable.
  • John Lee Carter in A Sparkle in the Cowboy's Eyes by Peggy Moreland.  John Lee the Bad Boy had me gritting my teeth at his macho maleness, yet the Charmer in him kept me reading...and laughing.  It's a great balance of characterizations, and all in all, John Lee is lovable. The moment his cluelessness evaporates and he realizes he loves the heroine is one of the best aha! moments I've ever read.  Peggy writes with emotion and a wonderful sense of humor.  I love all of her books, but John Lee leads the pack.
We each have our favorite type of heroes.  Some like a take-charge and noble Warrior.  Others may have a special fondness for a brooding lost soul.  Whatever they are, they must have three-dimensional characteristics that make them real to us.  And no matter what odds they face or how much the heroine denies her feelings for them, they manage to bring us to a more than satisfactory happily ever after ending.

“Not the glittering weapon fights the fight, but rather the hero's heart.”


Reese Mobley said...

I can see again!!! I loved this post about the heroes. Is it wrong that I love them all? lol. I guess the current hero in my manuscript would be a Chief, Bad Boy and a Warrior. He's in charge, has an interesting past he's trying to overcome and since he's a sheriff I think that would make him a warrior.

Pat Davids said...

My favorite hero is the wounded hero in Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer. My favorite part was when he gave the cantanerous old mule, Madame, a bath. She was in love him after that, and so was I.

Melissa Robbins said...

Rox, I'll take a Warrior, sprinkle him with a little Bad Boy spice, stir in a heaping cup of Charmer, maybe add another shake of that Bad Boy, throw in a pinch of Swashbuckler, a tablespoon of Professor, and just to be sure, maybe a couple more shakes of that Bad Boy.

Favorite hero: Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts from Princess Bride. Sigh.

Rox Delaney said...

Reese, so glad you can see again! Yay!!!!

I'll be honest. I don't usually use the archetypes. It's an afterthought, more than anything, if at all. Heroes just come to me as they are. They're usually simple to begin with, then become more complex as I get to know them. It's the getting to know them part that's the most fun, but often the hardest.

Rox Delaney said...

Pat, I have a soft spot for wounded heroes, too. I like it when the author peels back the character, layer by layer, to find the heart.

I think I've been watching Shrek too much, what with the onion analogy. LOL

Rox Delaney said...

Melissa, you're right. They're a little bit of each.

Westley is okay, but I'm a Mandy Patinkin fan, all the way. Doesn't matter what character he's playing.

Nina Sipes said...

Oh, I love that part too. Finding out how our characters tick is the best. But then, I also like messing with reader's heads.

Starla Kaye said...

I use that list and description a lot when I'm creating my heroes. Naturally I lean more toward the Bad Boy, Chief, and Warrior. I like really strong-willed men...the better for a sassy, strong-willed woman to take on.

Joan Vincent said...

The archetypes are a good place to start when dreaming yo heroes. I think I like the combo of Lost Soul and Bad Boy best in my fiction. I've used bits of all of them but the Charmer. Now I'll have to figure out why!