I’ve decided I really like my new hero. Not that I didn’t before, I just like him even more now I know where he’s coming from. In my last post I mentioned I was going to try sorting out the conflicts first for a change, then build the characters around that, and then – lastly – figure out a plot. This is a big thing for me. Normally I get an idea for a opening scene and start writing immediately, finding out about my characters as I go along. Now this may work for some people, but it appears this method does not work for me. And I have the Rs to prove it!
Anyway, to avoid the horrible 60 million jigsaw piece scenario, I figured out the hero first, starting with his internal conflict. The way I like to think about good old IC is to think about a person’s most basic fear. And then what the character does in order to fight that fear. My hero is afraid of being abandoned because it makes him feel unloved. So what does he do in order to fight that fear? He makes sure that no one leaves him. How does he do that? By being in control in his relationships. Remaining in control is his main motivation throughout the story and it’s this need that will lie at the heart of all the actions and decisions he makes. It will also be part of the lesson he needs to learn – in order to have a healthy relationship with the heroine, he needs to learn to give up that control and get over his fear of abandonment.
Now I’ve figured out his fear and his motivation, I can build up the backstory. Such as why he has a fear of abandonment. How the need for control has worked throughout his life. How it has affected his previous relationships. Working out this conflict and how it has shaped my hero can also give me clues as to what qualities he admires in other people (heroine alert!). Qualities like loyalty (people who are loyal don’t leave), dependability (people who are dependable are less likely to leave), tenaciousness (again, makes people less likely to give up or leave!). And also qualities that he may not like in other people (again, heroine alert!).
Of course, I’d like to say that his IC was all worked out first and then I got the idea for making him a French aristocrat but I can’t kick my old habits and the whole French thing kind of developed alongside the rest of it. I think the important thing though is that the fact that he is descended from French aristocrats and is the head of a huge luxury goods company adds colour and maybe a few traits but it doesn’t really have any bearing on his most basic conflict. So why did I make him French and head of a huge company? Well, I’ve never written a non-English character so I thought I’d make him French since I like the accent. 🙂 Plus if he’s wealthy then I can add French Chateaus etc for the fantasy factor. The aristocracy bit and the head of the company will add to his alphaness naturally. Of course now he’s sounding less Modern Heat and more Modern! Argh!
Anyway, I now have one piece of the jigsaw sorted. The next thing I have to do is build my old arch-nemesis: the heroine. I can hear her evil laugh already…
Oh, that’s right, I was going to ask about nationalities. What’s your favourite when it comes to heroes?