Every Good Alpha Deserves A Hobby

A week? Argh, naughty Jackie! My only excuse is that I’ve been hard at work this week getting in more contest entries. Yep, anything and everything, that’s my motto. Gotta be in it to win it etc, etc…

Anyway, it’s one of these entries that got me thinking about heroes. Heroes and hobbies to be exact. Hobbies?? Yeah, hobbies. I know, I know, brings to mind stamps and miniature railways and birdwatching (not that there is anything wrong with any of these!) and possibly anoraks. All of which don’t seem to be particularly hero orientated. But bear with me.

First let me tell you that there is nothing cuter than a man in the grip of a small enthusiasm. Dear Dr Jax for example. He often has little fancies. Last month it was fish. He investigated EVERYTHING. Tanks, correct water PH, oxygen thingies, the proper food, lights, the works. You would think he was getting some terribly expensive tropical fish but no, it was fresh water guppies. But the kids got to choose a tank ornament each, and now we have a little aquarium in our lounge. Since then he hasn’t looked at the fish and soon it’ll be something else, but while he was interested there was something so utterly endearing about it that it got me thinking about my heroes and their ‘things’ (no, not that thing). 🙂

A hero with a hobby is a very human hero. A relateable hero. You might have the world’s biggest alphole but if he has a passion for teaspoon collecting then somehow, that makes him more sympathetic (or not as the case may be. I guess it depends if you like teaspoons). It also provides a very nice way for the heroine to relate to him. Perhaps she buys him a rare teaspoon for his collection? What a way to show you care! And it can also be a lovely point of similarity – maybe she collects plates?

The plot opportunities for little hobbies can be good too. Perhaps the teaspoon collecting is part of his conflict? He MUST have the best collection in the world because he has to be the best at everything because when he was a kid his father always made him feel second rate. Or perhaps he loves fishing because it makes him feel closer to his dead mother. Or he likes making jewellery because he’s actually secretly creative and doing finance deals doesn’t satisfy that part of him.

Hobbies can be great ways to set up character as well. What is it about teaspoon collecting that he likes so much? Perhaps he’s very neat and has them all ordered and displayed beautifully and then the heroine comes in and messes them all up. Or maybe he’s into music and is very techy, and has to have the BEST stereo equipment (come on, everyone knows at least one guy like this, right?), and then the heroine makes a perfectly innocent comment about his stereo which then gets her a rave for HOURS. And she’s enchanted by his boyishness. 😉

Obviously, in giving your hero a hobby, you do have to make it part of his character. I wouldn’t give a CEO a stamp collecting hobby just because it was different. The stamp collecting would have to be part of the type of guy he is. Why stamps? Did he collect them as a child? Why does he still collect them as an adult? Etc, etc.

So what’s the most interesting hobby for a hero that you’ve read? I read a Susan Napier years ago where the hero grew roses. It was awesome!

15 thoughts on “Every Good Alpha Deserves A Hobby”

  1. Great post Jackie!
    My previous hero had a hobby of cooking – and was obsessed with blueberries (my heroines scent!)
    This story? Well, his job is his hobby – creating games for Wii and Playstation!

  2. Really interesting post Jac! I’m trying to think back on my hero’s and see what kind of interests/hobbies I’ve given them. One hero was obsessed with cars and changed it into his career. One loved photography and although it was his work, he photographed bridges and sunsets for fun. And my current hero loves football – watching, playing – so I guess this is his hobby, although I could play it up more! I think these things are really important in stories because it what takes them from two-dimensional to real 🙂

  3. Rach – my dear, that’s it EXACTLY! It does make the characters actual characters instead of cardboard cut-outs. I don’t think mine ever really have but in all the stories I’m doing now, they do. It actually makes them fun. Given the Chessman his own special little hobby too… 😉

  4. With my painter hero, Max, it was less how the hobby itself related to his conflict and more how the sharing of that hobby, that completely secret passion, demonstrated the uniqueness of his relationship with Alison.

    And I agree. It adds this lovely human element to enlarger than life man!

  5. Maisey – well, I kind of got the idea from your heroes you know. They’ve all got something special about them. 🙂 Anyway, yes, it doesn’t necessarily have to be about the conflict. It can just provide a point at which he and the heroine can relate and connect.

  6. Great post Jackie! Ummm not sure about hobbies – they don’t come up a lot in Presents hero’s normally (unlike something else that *does* come up! wink, wink!)

    But saying that – an architect who love’s old buildings could work. A racing car driver who’s loves cars as well. A writer who loves to travel to research his plots, they couold work. But a Presents hero who train spots – umm I don’t think so. But never say never! Caroline x

  7. Caroline – Hehe! I wouldn’t call them hobbies in Presents so much as ‘passions’. 🙂 Maisey’s heroes have had a couple. I reckon some heroes could use ’em! Perhaps someone needs to do the first trainspotting hero!

  8. Lacey – you know, I’m almost tempted to make one of my heroes collect teaspoons. Seriously! As for the chessman, he’s going to be taking up whittling. 🙂

  9. Hi Jackie, I really enjoyed this post. Hobbies are something I’d never thought about before. My heroes haven’t tended to have hobbies (and in retrospect, that’s partly why they ended up relatively one-dimensional).

    Thankfully my current hero is obsessed with soccer (or else I might be scrapping thousands of words right now!) I should admit that he played professionally, so it’s a career as well as a hobby, but most definitely a passion. And now that you mention it, it’s made him a well-rounded character. I’m going to remember this! Thanks Jackie 🙂

  10. Madeline – No worries. 🙂 Glad it was useful! Yes, my heroes tended to be one dimensional too – got too obsessed with conflict to think about character. Doh! Anyway, I’ve found that since I’ve given my boys something to do with their free time, they actually become much more like people and less like ‘generic hero mk3’. AAAAND I just read another blog post somewhere else about how to humanise a hard-out alpha, and that was to give them something that humanises them. A pssion for something definitely makes them far more sympathetic.

  11. Hi,

    Glad to see you’re sounding up-beat about your writing, which in my humble opinion is excellent. Judging from your entries to M&B’s NV contests your characters are utterly believable and, I enjoyed reading your first chaps etc.

    Hobbies for heroes? I guess killing for pleasure sits well with anti hero in a crime thriller Vs hero cop. But, tinkering with racing/rally/classic cars better suits a romance hero as in “Starting Over” by Sue Moorcroft: incidentally, a great romantic read.

    Running with “Hobbies for Heroes” theme, the mind boggles in conjuring hobbies for a historical hero! 😉

    BTW, I said I’d let you know if I ever got another chance at a publishing deal. Well, it finally happened, my polo player hero hits the book scene July 2012. Bloody long wait, but I celebrated by self-pubbing a historical novella to Kindle. It’s selling moderately O.K., without any publicity beyond that of Twitter, facebook and now blogging.

    Formatting to Kindle was a hair-pulling experience, but I cracked it as good as and in some cases better than professional publishers. I now feel confident enough to assist/help other self pubbed authors with formatting for Kindle: free of charge. After all, what are blogging buddies for if not of mind to help others.

    The movie trailer, too, was a whole new learning curve and a lot easier than I thought for a simple one. I’m willing to give tips on “how to” but I ain’t making book trailers for no one.

    If interested the movie trailer is at my latest blog: http://francinehowarth.blogspot.com

    Keep smiling as you are on your profile pic, and good news will come knocking if not already hammering at your door.

    I doubt you’ve seen it, but there’s a fun blog for romance writers: published and unpublished. There are weekly challenges and believe me, each and every one test one’s writing abilities, and teaches one to hone, hone, cut-to-the-bone and make every word count. The word limit is always 400: try telling a story in 400 words. It’s cracking romantic flash-fiction. 😉

    best
    F http://fridaynightwriters.blogspot.com

  12. Francine – congrats on your contract. That sounds fab! And also thanks re my writing – that’s lovely of you to say. 🙂

    Lacey – yes, indeed it does. His foster father used to make them. 🙂

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