What's In a Hero?

Every person, every reader, and every writer thinks they know what a hero is. But. What is a hero when it comes to romance?

Let's take a look.

The list of usual heroic attributes:
Something about him is out of societies' norm.
Could be he perfers not to wear wigs when wigs are the fashion.
Hair. Rarely is a hero bald.
Teeth. Heroes usually have most of them.
Height. Rarely is a hero short.
Legs. Rarely is a hero short-legged or knock-kneed.
Clothing. A Hero wears clothing that distinguishes him in some way.
Heroes save or protect something weaker or smaller.
Heroes are busy. Even stricken with ennui, they seethe about it.
Things. Heroes own something they treasure deeply.
Thinking. Rare is the hero who is short on brains.
Oddly, romance heroes can be blind, crippled, or crazed, but are rarely deaf.

What's this list all about? It is about definition. We think we have men around us who we watch and think we could be attracted to, but when the reality of story romance heroes begin to be put on paper, if they don't match the norm of expectations, they will fall flat. On the other hand, if they are not also distinguished in an expected form that is actually unexpected for our every day life, their story will also fall flat. It is the combination that intrigues the reader.

I thought of many of my storybook heroes and spent some time thinking about my life's heroes. They had few things in common. But then, one is fantasy, the other is real. I hope this article sparks some thoughts about how we think about heroes and what our expectations are in our fantasy ones. As well as our writing, we need to read, to understand and enjoy stories from a reader's perspective, for what we write becomes someone else's fantasy. Does your writing really contain a heroic person?


Reese Mobley said...

A true hero should be judged on his actions not his face. Good point, Nina. And besides, we all have different ideas of handsome but I think we can all agree on heroic actions.

Starla Kaye said...

This was an interesting post and it makes you think. Generally speaking, romance heroes and real life heroes don't have a lot in common. But I enjoy reading about both kinds.

Nina Sipes said...

I love my fantasy heroes for they must have faces and forms as well as actions. However, my real life heroes only need deeds. I don't care what they look like. I don't even especially care what they are motivated by. I merely want results under difficult conditions.

Joan Vincent said...

Nina, I second your reply to Starla. And thank for the list--it definitely made think about heros in a different way.