“Where have all good men gone, and where are all the gods?
Where’s the street-wise Hercules to fight the rising odds?”
Nothing like a good man to make a woman go wild.
One minor problem: The quintessential Bad Boy smokes, dips, and chews and sleeps with any gal or two. Yuck. Call me a prude, but smoking, dipping, and chewing makes a man’s mouth and lungs look like my mother-in-law’s meatloaf. Blech.
“It’s gonna take a superman to sweep me off my feet.”
At one time or another we wanted to be Lois on the balcony or Mary Jane braless in a skimpy shirt in the rain. Okay, maybe not the braless part because we're good Christian girls. But, ahhh, the thrill of the rescue and the magic carpet ride.
Only one minor problem: You can’t count on Superhero--any more than Bad Boy--to be home with your kids have the flu or the toilet is clogged because he’s always off saving the freakin’ world. Face it. Lex Luther and Doc Ock just aren’t gonna pause in their quest for total world domination while your SuperSweetheart empties the litterbox. So you’re stuck with the poopy deed. How romantic.
(No offense intended toward anyone offended by my use of freakin' or poopy. I would say using the words is a habit I'm trying to break, but my dear friend Dina is our resident Inky nun and I feel led to adorn some habits for her benefit.)
Okay, I know many a romance reader and writer insist Bad Boys will always be the ultimate romantic heroes because they’re always redeemable by the “right woman,” but, for me, having the right heroine isn’t enough to compensate for an unrespectable hero. Let Bad Boy keep his meatloaf lungs and mouth to himself and Debbie and all the guys she did in Dallas. The truth is the Bad Boy who lived his life sampling the world’s buffet of women (and doesn’t have a STD or two) isn’t a hero.
He’s a cliché.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think a guy has to be a virgin to be a romance novel--or real life--hero, either. But a true Bad Boy is more than an Iron Chef of Sex. *sigh* I miss not watching the Food Network, but that's another blog post.
We all have our idea of the perfect guy, the perfect hero, the perfect Mr. Romance. Only a hero is more than an archetype. He is more than a “caricature” of masculinity. A hero is more than a sexy body with a sexy grin and a sexy voice. (Although those are quite nice, Gina whispers.)
“He’s gotta be larger than life.”
A hero--no matter his archetype or appearance--is dangerous to somebody. His very existence threatens, intimidates, and costs somebody something.
He can’t be ignored.
He won’t be ignored.
Maximus, William Wallace, Neo, Aragorn, Jack Dawson, Jake Sully, Robert Parr, Buddy.
Yes, I mean Buddy from Elf. He was dangerous to the men and women who didn’t believe in Santa, who didn’t believe that inside each person was someone special. His joy pushed people outside their status quo and made a positive difference. Only a dangerous man can do that.
A hero--no matter his archetype or appearance--isn’t dangerous to the heroine. Oh, he definitely destroys her peace of mind, yet he isn’t a physical threat. His very existence confuses, frustrates, and adds something to her life. The poor dear can’t ignore him no matter how determined she is to try, and then we the readers are screaming at him for driving her crazy and screaming at her to give him a heavier dose of his own medicine. Make him suffer, lass, make him suffer! You go, Princess Fiona!
So you turn the page hoping for the first kiss and the second one and the third because you know the kisses will come. Why?
A hero--no matter his archetype and appearance--is devoted to the heroine. But since all men are not all alike, how he shows his devotion depends on who he is. A white knight will save his damsel’s life. The hunk-next-door will baby-sit. A hero’s devotion can be as simple as taking her out to dinner after a long day’s work or more complicated like helping her realize she’s a good mother even if her house is never clean and her son has an affinity for peeing in the flower garden.
“Somewhere after midnight,
in my wildest fantasy…
there’s someone reaching back for me”
“We read romance novels not for the handsome heroes, not for the steamy loves scenes, but for the involvement of the man in the relationship.” ~Vicki Lewis Thompson, author of NERD IN SHINING ARMOR
A man actively involved in the relationship will make his woman go wild. In a heroine’s wildest fantasy, her hero is reaching for her. And through the wind, the chill, the rain, the storm, and the flood, he will be there for her. That’s what defines a romance.
So to you authors out there I say, if you want your Hero—your Bad Boy, your Good Man, your Nerd-- to be a real man, make him dangerous. And give him a battle to fight. He’ll love you for it. Your heroine will love you for it.
Most of all, your readers will love you--and him--for it.