Ten Ways to Make Your Hero Suffer

Still nothing from SYTYCW but apparently the last responses are going to be sent out this week. I am feeling extremely nervous as some Rs without feedback have already gone out so – like everything in this business – there are no guarantees.

Anyway, as a kind of distraction, I thought I’d turn my thoughts to torture. As you do. Hero torture in particular. Now call me a sadist but torturing my characters is one of my all time favourite things to do, especially torturing my heroes because let’s face it, who doesn’t love a tortured hero? Yeah, there is such a thing as too much angst, I know, so it’s a fine line. But still….tortured heroes….mmmm…*drools*…


So, how does one torture one’s hero? Well here’s my top ten list of ways to get the best out of your hero’s emotional pain. πŸ™‚

1. Give him a heroine who is the antithesis of everything he believes in but then give her a couple of qualities that the he can’t help admiring. Watch his agonies as he tries to tell himself he doesn’t like her. Or admire her. No freaking (or other suitable F word) way!

2. Have your heroine be utterly irresistable physically to him so that he can’t helping wanting badly, no matter how much his brain tells him don’t go there. Oh wants…but shouldn’t…but I do…but I can’t…etc…

3. Make the heroine totally indifferent/unaware/derisive of his usual slick moves so that he has to behave differently and thus be out of his comfort zone if he wants this fabulous, fascinating woman. Dammit!

4. Have him tell himself that he doesn’t really want her, that it’s just physical. And then put him in a situation where he realises that actually, it isn’t. Oh noes!!

5. If he’s being overly alpha, have the heroine tell him he’s being a jerk and if he doesn’t stop behaving like an ass, she’s outta there. No one tells me what to do! Ever! But she’s leaving and I’ll never… Double dammit!

6. Get him in a situation where he has to talk about his feelings with the heroine. Hey, he’s a guy. Worst. Thing. Ever.

7. Make sure he’s totally comfortable with the relationship he has with the heroine. It’s just about sex. It’s just about being friends. It’s just about being work colleagues. It’s cool. It’s fine. Everything’s dandy. Then watch him squirm when you make him realise that he’s falling in love.

8. Put him in a scene where he thinks he’s doing something nice for the heroine and then have it backfire on him because a) he’s misjudged the heroine or b) the heroine’s conflict means it’s actually the worst possible thing he could have done (see heroine torture) or c) he still hasn’t learned that he has to do things differently from the way he’s always done them if he wants this, particular woman. Lots of bleeding potential here. Can also lead into number 6 for added torture. Or number 10 for maximum angst.

9. This is a risky maneouvre but you can have him do something alpha that makes the heroine laugh at him. This can be good for uptight, buttoned up heroes. And in fact, can be a real growing moment if he figures out that actually, being laughed at won’t kill him and that sometimes laughing at oneself can be a good thing. Who doesn’t love a hero who knows when he’s being a d*ckhead?

10. Have him realise he’s in love with the heroine and know that there is no way that he will ever – EVER! – be with her. (Unless he does something totally and completely way out like risking his heart and telling her he loves her).

Naturally all of this depends on the hero, his conflict and his motivation. And some of these may not apply to some heroes. Hey, there are guys who actually quite like talking about their feelings! But usually I find that if I put my heroes in any one of these situations, they don’t like it. Don’t like it at all. Just being cruel to be kind though. Because the more you torture your characters, the more emotion you get from your story, the more your characters learn and the more wonderful your HEA. πŸ™‚ In this case, the end justifies the means. Hehe.

Anyone else got any good torture suggestions? Bring ’em on!

17 thoughts on “Ten Ways to Make Your Hero Suffer”

  1. I like it when the Hero realises that he needs the heroine because she can do something that he can’t. And it burns him that he can’t do it himself! Or maybe he can do it but she just does it better than him. Stokes all those competitive instincts, rubs those wounds from not feeling ‘good enough’ until they’re nice and raw, builds up a little resentment that often triggers a confrontation – all that passion and vulnerability and whoompa! Well that’s what I hope happens.

    How about making the Hero a writer who submitted to a comp and then has to wait for ages for a response? Sounds like torture to me! I’m feelin’ for ya sweetie!

  2. Elissa – oh yeah, that’s a goody! And he secretly admires her because she can do what he can’t – not that he’ll EVER admit it. Hehe.
    BTW, yep, definitely torture all right. I need my HEA! πŸ™‚

  3. Oooh…did I hear there would be hero torture? *brandishes torch and pitchfork*

    You know where I stand on it. Love it. From the hero having to pick between duty or desire, to a man whose well ordered world is rocked by a woman that challenges his every perception on life…I love it.

    *pulls out pliers* When do we start?

  4. Maisey – ah, a woman after my own heart! Yep, nothing better in my book (literally), though a hot love scene comes a close second. Duty vs desire is awesome! The old ‘I want but can’t have’ conundrum. Love it.

    Oh and I forgot having your hero finally confess all to the heroine and then have her throw it back in his face! That, especially, is most awesome. Knife twisting even.

  5. Julia – yes, I admit it, I am evil. Evil and baaaad. But my heroes secretly love it. Yes, they do! But oh yes, the hero who does what he thinks is right is awesome. My current hero is doing that right now because he thinks the heroine deserves more. Silly boy. πŸ™‚

  6. Kerrin – no worries! Always happy to pass on the torture love.

    And have another one too – make your hero have to choose between two things he wants most in the world, one of them being the heroine. Then have him choose wrong. πŸ™‚

  7. Fantastic post! You’ve got all my favorites there! The last one especially πŸ™‚

    Only a few more days until the end of the week so hopeful SYTYCW results will be heading your way shortly tonight πŸ™‚

  8. Lacey – oh most certainly the last one! It wouldn’t be torture without that one. πŸ™‚ Re SYTYCW. Hopefully. Being put out of one’s misery would be good!

  9. Ah gotta love hero torture πŸ™‚

    My poor hero was helped to realise he was in love with heroine by a 12yo. He wasn’t happy. Especially because he’d tried to use his immense sexual prowess (!!) to get the heroine to enter into a marriage of convenience. Is she gonna believe he now loves her? I think not.

    LOL, now he has to do the one on your list where he has to risk his heart and get totally out of his comfort zone πŸ™‚

  10. Lindsey – I’m not sure re the lucid part. I don’t feel particularly lucid that’s for sure! πŸ™‚

    Joanne – excellent! Make sure he’s TOTALLY out of his comfort zone and then twist the knife. πŸ˜‰

    Amy – There may be a couple more I could add actually. Now I think about it. There are many ways…

    Caroline – thank you! Both re the blog and the finger crossing. πŸ™‚

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