Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Heroes and the Writers Who Create Them

What is your idea of the perfect man? Is he the strong, silent type, like John Wayne? Is he tuned into his emotions? Is he tall, short, fat, thin? Well-built or well-intentioned? What does he do for a living? What does he do for fun? How organized is he? What does he look like? Is he an arm-chair sports enthusiast or an athlete? What music does he listen to? What are his religious and political views? What’s his relationship with his mother?

If this sounds like a questionnaire on a dating website, it’s not. But it should. Because just as it’s important for someone to know everything about the man they’re interested in, it’s equally important for the writer to know everything about her hero. And as a female writer, that knowledge is essential, because we can’t walk in their shoes.

Most romance writers are women. We can easily relate to our heroines. Sometimes we create them in our own image; other times in the image of a friend or family member. Even if we create them out of the blue, I think women are easy for women to write. Men, less so. We can create them based on our favorite movie star, or our boyfriends, husbands, fathers or sons. But we’re not them. And therefore it’s harder to make them as realistic as our heroines.

In order to make them real, we have to know everything about them. That’s why the questions at the start of this post sound like something we’d ask on a first or second date. The more information we have about our heroes, the more well-rounded they are and the better our readers can relate to them.

Those 3-D heroes also make writing our stories easier. We don’t have to wonder what they’d do next or why they behaved as they did? We don’t have to wonder what they’d think of something (although our heroine might). We know them well enough to have all the answers. So the next time your story flounders and you don’t know what to do next, interview your hero. See where his story takes you.


  1. Great suggestion! I like to know my hero through and through. My latest one would probably like an interview!

  2. Good advice for any writer, no matter the genre. Getting to know your character is an important process, that is dealt with in many ways... I like the idea of interviewing the hero... perhaps interviewing ANY of the characters would flesh out the way that character would respond in a situation that is not-so-typical. Nice post!


  3. Thanks for stopping by, Christine and Artful Communication-k. Interviewing characters can be helpful, and fun! Happy holidays.

  4. Hi Jennifer,

    I love the idea of interviewing my hero. It's something that would give so much background to round out the character, even if much of it would never appear in print.

    Or maybe all of our characters need on-line dating profiles!

  5. How fun would it be to do an "online dating" site for characters! We could learn so much and make combinations we never thought of before.

  6. I create a horoscope for my heroes. The interpretation provides details of personality, likes and dislikes, inner conflicts, childhood conditions, and physical characteristics. It works for me. Then the hard part comes: bringing him to life.

  7. I love that idea, Ana! I don't know anything about horoscopes, but I'd love to try it someday.