Thursday, March 8, 2012

Q is for Quintessential

My New Webster's Dictionary defines quintessential as 'the perfect embodiment of a thing.'

I think most romance authors would say they strive to create the quintessential hero for our stories. We want our hero to be perfect in every way, for the heroine, and for ourselves. I think I fall just a little bit in love with every one of my heroes each and every time. How can my heroine keep from doing the same?

What's interesting is that, although by definition, our hero should be 'perfect', it's actually the flaws within our hero that tend to make him heroic. Or, more accurately, it's how he overcomes those flaws with the help of the heroine that make her (and us as well) fall in love with him.

A 'perfect' hero is often far from perfect. He may be scarred: physically, emotionally, or both. His past often stands in the way of his future. He may not know what the hell he's doing in life. He may not want to fall in love at all.

If our hero truly was 'perfect', we really wouldn't have much of a story, would we? No inner conflict to overcome. No goals to clash with the heroine's because he'd already have everything he wanted. We need our hero to be flawed to make our story work. To show how love and trust can overcome seemingly impossible obstacles.

Although our hero is far from perfect, he's still perfect for the heroine and she for him. So I guess Webster did have it right after all.

What's your quintessential hero like? What flaws make him the 'perfect' hero?

Until next time,

Happy Reading!



  1. In 'Angel,' Jeremy's flaw is he will lie, cheat and steal to be with her.
    Come to think of it, it was the same in my first novel. My hero wasn't expecting to fall in love, so what he hadn't told the heroine drove them apart.

  2. I like watching my hero and heroine overcome obstacles to reach a level of perfection that enables them to come together. Not that they're perfect when they do, but they've created a space in their hearts that allows the other to occupy it, that doesn't require them to lose a part of themselves in order to create that space.

  3. I like to think my characters are 'real' people with the kind of flaws that many people have - self-doubt, afraid to trust, not ready to 'move on' etc. I don't necessarily think these are 'flaws' but simply part of their personality because of their life experience.
    I do like your idea of the hero being perfect for the heroine and vice-versa, Debra. In the end, that's the main thing. We don't turn our heroes/heroines into 'perfect' people by the end of the story, but maybe show that they have learnt how to deal with some aspect of their personalities that was stopping them from achieving happiness together.

  4. It's also really hard to love perfect people.

    In writing heroes that are flawed, we're able to relate to them. And when we relate to them, we cheer for them, feel for them, and ache for them.

    Isn't that what writing is about?

  5. Hi Ladies,

    Great comments. Thanks!

    I tried to leave comments earlier, but Blogger wouldn't let me at work...arghhhh.

    Those 'flaws' certainly do make our heroes seem more real and relatable, even when he is the quintessential man!

  6. I think what you said in your post hit the spot, Debra. As long as he is (or becomes) the quintessential man for the heroine, that's all that matters in the end!