Thursday, August 24, 2006

Heroes...and what they need to be

There's been a really great, interesting discussion about heroes going on at eharlequin's Modern Extra thread. Mod X is a relatively new line, and general consensus seems to be that it combines the sexual intensity of a Modern/Presents with the emotion of a Tender/Romance, with its own special elements incorporated as well. But the heroes? They seem to be closer to a Romance hero than a Presents.

I've read a few, not as many as I'd like since I live in North America and we're not getting them here yet. And a few that I'd ordered didn't come because they SOLD OUT which is well done for the authors but not so good for me. But I've read two of Trish Wylie's and I'd agree that they are very much like a romance. In fact, and she can correct me if I'm wrong here, but I think she was told to write it like a romance but with the sex in all the right places. Trish has an edgy, flirty yet deeply emotional style, which is why, among many reasons, she's been a natural fit for writing for both lines. Nicola Marsh is writing for Mod X now too, and she said this about her first Mod X: "BIG-SHOT BACHELOR, was written as a Romance. To convert to a ModX, all I did was add in 2 sex scenes and not change the hero at all". It doesn't mean that all Romances can be instantly converted by adding sex. But what it does mean is that her hero was perfectly fine for the new line.

So how are the heroes different? We've discussed the deeply alpha types required for Presents, and I made the comment that there could be no "wimpy" heroes. Ooops. Well maybe not oops, because a lot of really great points were made. I do NOT think that betas or a "kinder, gentler, alpha" is a wimp...that comment was strictly based on my own writing and critique comments like "don't let your hero be such a wimp!" Julie Cohen defines them as this: "For me, they're total fantasy figures: honorable (at least eventually), passionate, playful, strong, not afraid to laugh at themselves, always a challenge to the heroine."

LOL I'm discovering with my new WIP how you can write a tough hero but not have him abrasive - he's still a nice guy. And so to bring home my point, I'm going to cut and paste a few bits of those comments here, because these lovely authors explain it so much more eloquently than me.

When I was writing Hired By The Cowboy, Michelle Styles, one of my cp's, tried to make me see how my hero had to be more active rather than letting things happen. He had to take the lead. About heroes, she's said, "Alpha men can be funny and clever and care about things other than status. Alpha is about wanting to protect and defend. Alpha is about being strong, unafraid to take tough decisions because someone has to. Alphas have an inner core of integrity, a backbone of steel. Alphas do not tend to be self aware in the beginning...Alpha can be compassionate but their compassion is proactive. They do things, rather than react to them."

Heroes that act instead of react. THIS IS HUGE. :-)

Having a hero that is alpha doesn't mean he's nasty, arrogant, or a chauvinist pig. Kate Walker made a great point. "Nowhere but nowhere does it say that increasing that 'alpha quotient' means adding in brutality or callousness or arrogance - it means adding in more of that 'challenge' element - the personal/internal conflict that keeps your H & h apart."

And really, that's what it's about. Heroes that are strong, that we can fall in love with...and characters that have conflict running through the whole book.

I'll finish up with Kate Hardy's summation, and this might just be something that I stick on my monitor when I write because it's so damn important:

"conflict + character = emotional punch = what our readers want."

Thanks guys for such a great discussion and for letting me use your words here.


  1. Anonymous2:19 p.m.

    What an interesting post! please keep on with these snippets of advice, Donna--they are such a help.

    Janet Ch.

  2. Thanks Janet- I found the whole discussion so inspiring and thought provoking that I thought I should blog about it.

    And, thanks for putting in the "Ch." Clarity is key. :-)

  3. You know, even after all that discussion, I'm trying to figure out how I can get my nice alpha hero in a dress.

  4. A very good summation.

    I do think people sometimes have this horrible impression of alpha heroes. All alpha means is a leader, and there are many different types of leadership style.

    Also the stronger the hero, the stronger and more fiesty the heroine can be. Strength needs strength.

  5. This was a great discussion, really inspired me about my current hero and I'm not even attempting a Mod X at the moment! LOL

    I love Julie's comment - she would try to put her hero in a dress. ;)

  6. You've really captured the heart of the 'hero' discussion here Donna. Well done!