Building a Hero

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. πŸ™‚ 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?

23 thoughts on “Building a Hero”

  1. Oooh, Italian…or Greek…or anyone dark, gorgeous and mysterious…

    Sounds like things are going brilliantly between you and the hero – I’m sure the heroine will work out just as well.


  2. Suzanne – not sure the heroine actually. I’m hoping she’ll turn out to be easier now the hero has got himself sorted.
    Ahh…you like a Mediterranean hero then? Interesting. I don’t mind an Italian but not sure about a Greek. πŸ˜‰

  3. What a coincidence Jax πŸ™‚ My new vamp hero is an Italian… I am all for it πŸ˜‰

    My other paranormal hero (submitted to an epublisher) was Greek πŸ˜‰

    Are we so picky when it comes to heroines πŸ˜‰

  4. Ok – i must be a weirdo cause the greek, italian, spanish, south american thing does zilch for me. maybe I’m biased – but I like my Aussie hero’s but will not say no to any nice English, Irish or French boys!

  5. I have to say that I’m with Janette on this. I don’t necessarily dislike the southern Med type hero, or the South American hero either for that matter. But I do tend to steer away from titles with Greek/Spanish etc in them. Sure, I get the allure, the accent, the mystery that is a foreign lover, the way an Italian man can probably mutter something like, ‘I’m seriously constipated’ and it can sound like the sexiest thing ever. I love me an Aussie hero, they just ooze charm and casual sexy like no one else. I love the American hero, the man who has spent his time in some flash city but his roots are planted firmly in Texas or Montana, giving him a wonderfully sensual drawl when he speaks. And for some reason, despite being surrounded by them, I still love an Irish hero above all, IF he’s done right. All I’ll say here is, Heidi Rice. You wanna read an Irish man worth swooning over? Read Heidi Rice.

    Irish men can be very intense, very deep but can go to great trouble hiding this side. When it’s revealed and when the ‘real’ man comes out to play…well, whew, the fun begins.

    I’m very interested to meet your French guy, I’ve never read a French hero and I look forward to seeing how you ‘handle’ him!!


  6. Hi Jackie,

    Sounds like you’ve got your hero pitched, bowled, and LBW!

    He comes across as “existing” not merely a proposal of character with little or no personality.

    As for foreign heroes over home-grown fruits (UK)I find myself attracted to accents, timbre of voice etc. He can be from the Med though not swarthy (greasy), but the most delightful accent is that of Scandinavians and Swiss born Frenchmen!

    Good luck with your heroine and overall project.



  7. My heroines give me the biggest issues as well! They guys, well, they just seem to develop more natually. Any my heroes? I don’t much care where they come from, but they have to be tough, ready and very able to handle anything the heroine throws at them. I usually write a hero who has become a decent guy depsite some difficulty in his upbringing that would have had so many others turning to the dark side. I like to flirt with the edge of the ultimate ‘rough and tough’ alpha within the confines of contemporary boundaries, i.e. he can’t actually kill the bad guys if there are any, unlike in an paranormal for instance. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a French hero. Good luck with it!

  8. Janette – lol! I’m not a med fan either. Though I don’t mind Italians.

    Aideen – that’s hilarious! I wonder what ‘I’m seriously constipated’ is in Greek?? I’m with you re Heidi’s Irish heroes. They are seriously sexy (ooooh, the accent!). As to the Frenchman – argh the pressure! I better not tell him you’re keen to meet him otherwise he’ll go all silly on me. πŸ˜‰

    Hey Francine – thanks re my hero! He’s sounding more like a 3D person and less like a cardboard cut-out every day. Though character development in 50k is a tad difficult… Anyway, yeah, the accent does it for me. Swiss born French eh? Must keep an ear out for that!

    Kaily – your heroes sound lovely! But yeah, I’m with you on the heroine issue. Women!

  9. I think i’m much more easy to please on the hero front. From far off shores? Great. Close to home? Great. As long as he’s honourable and hot and strong and has a bit of humour.
    But heroines.
    She’s a whole other struggle. She’s got to be strong but not too much so. Doesn’t matter where she’s from – she’s hard work!

  10. Jackie your posts are always so insightful and i learn so much! thanks heaps, i’ve copied and pasted into a document so i can look at again and again, hope you don’t mind.
    also, i’ve nominated you for an award on my blog. Lacey has too, but i couldn’t help nominating you too πŸ˜‰

  11. Hey Aideen, thanks for mentioning my Irish guys, and Jackie…

    Never done a Frenchman myself but some of Abby Green’s are super sexy. That said, Jackie, i don’t think you need to worry too much about his nationality (and aristocratic bearing) making him too Modern for Modern Heat. At the end it’s all in the execution, right, and I think from reading your blog and your Feel the Heat chapter you definitely have a Modern Heat voice.

    Funnily enough, one of my heroes felt very Modern to me – Luke Devereaux from Pleasure Pregnancy and a Proposition – but I think I got away with him in Modern Heat cos the heroine was so feisty and basically didn’t let him get away with it. I think the heroes can still be very alpha, as long as the heroines are more than a match for them – which gives the story that essential Modern Heat spin. It also sounds like your heroine is going to have quite a job on her hands getting under this guy’s guard – which is fab, more juicy conflict there then.

    So go for it. Sounds like you’ve got the conflicts really well worked out which is great… Wish I did that more often frankly!

  12. Heidi – gosh, thanks for your comment! It’s really lovely for you to take the time to read my bunch of blatherings and offer some advice. Yes, I remember your hero – he was gorgeous!! Interesting re the heroine being a match for him making it MH. I hadn’t really thought of it that way. In that case, yes, she’s going to have her work cut out for her with this guy. But I think she can handle it. πŸ™‚
    As to the conflicts – my first time doing this so I’ll let you know how it goes! Hopefully not in a steaming heap of excrement. πŸ˜‰

  13. English is my favourite, I’m afraid! I guess it’s about identifying. And I think Englishmen can be just as mysterious and brooding as your average Greek or Italian male. Especially when their dinner’s late …

    If I had to choose though, I’d say French. But that’s because it’s the country outside England which I know best, having spent most time there and speaking the language pretty well.

    As a writer, you have to really understand the culture, I think, to write a particular nationality well. But some writers do seem to have a gift for capturing a nationality very quickly and assuredly on the page. So it must just be my particular weakness!

  14. Jane – yep, the familiar is sometimes best eh? The nice thing about category romance though is that the emphasis is on the conflict so, in a way, the nationality isn’t important. For my story, it’s just window dressing. He probably won’t be in any way a real Frenchman but then that’s not the point, it’s how he and the heroine react to each other that really matters.

  15. That’s so hard because I’m not really picky! I love me a nice Mediteranean man but then again, I love a good Aussie or Kiwi too. The only ones I’m not too keen on are the English ones! I think that’s because the unknown seems more interesting and sexy to me. Either that or I’m a sucker for an accent πŸ™‚

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