We all know the romance genre as a whole takes a beating from time to time and we all know how ironic that is when it's such a huuuugggeeeee chunk of the book market. Strength in numbers the saying goes, right? And I've been thinking about that a bit of late in between wrestling my latest hero into shape (for another reason that I can't tell you about yet... but WATCH THIS SPACE as the saying goes! Natasha and I have been chatting up a storm on it!!!), because en masse that large a number of people can do wonderful things, can't they? We all believe in the power of love in a world where it's often secondary to wealth and status and just plain making it through the day. We pass on our books to our daughters and neices and friends and therefore hand them that belief in the possibilities of love and *happily-ever-after*... but does that mean we help define what makes a hero for us in real life???
I've argued this one time and time again as you lot know. Because I think women know the difference between fantasy and reality. But - now work with me here - there are also qualities on the page that we'd like to see in real life too, aren't there??? Honour, compassion, integrity, family values, a sense of humour, the ability to be humbled by the love of a strong woman... See where I'm going?
Being the good little researcher gal that I am (and being the kind of gal who gets distracted easily from one link on a webpage to another link on a webpage and - yes - okay - it IS procrastination but sometimes its INTERESTING and can lead to the beginnings of a PLOT!) I found a few different things that started me thinking about this some more and it's why I'd LOVE to hear YOUR THOUGHTS on it...
Let's look at what I found shall we. First up we have a site called Bookbug on the Web and they asked several romance authors what their definition of a hero was... Go on - go have a look. What do you agree with? I particularly agreed with:
Karen Ranney: Qualities a hero should always have are the ability to change, learn, grow, and the willingness to do so.
Susan Johnson: Tenderness, understanding, a strong sense of self, and a willingness to take on the world.
Kay Hooper: A hero should always, always have a sense of humor. Everything else is negotiable (grin).
Deborah Smith: A hero should be wise enough to be strong without cruelty, vulnerable without weakness, and loving without possessiveness. A hero likes a strong woman and doesn't feel threatened by her intelligence. He treats his daughters with unpatronizing respect and his sons with gentle authority. He knows that a man should be respected, not feared.
Robin Lee Hatcher: A hero can be flawed, but in the end, he must ultimately rise above his own human weaknesses and behave in a heroic manner, which to me means acting with integrity and moral courage.
Alexis Harrington: A hero doesn't need to be perfect—I'd rather have a man with human frailties and self-doubts. But despite his imperfections, he must have a nobility of spirit that gives him the ability to recognize his own flaws, to see the good in others, and ultimately, to do the right thing, regardless of the cost to himself.
Kathleen Creighton: I'm sure this is going to be one of those "du-uh" answers, but I'd have to say the one quality a hero must always have is simply...a good soul. He can be almost anything, any type, anybody, but without that basic goodness inside, he is not and never can be a hero.
Mariah Stewart: First and foremost, a great sense of humor. He doesn't have to be a "funny man" all the time, but he has to be able to see the humor in the situation. Intelligence—I've never met a truly sexy man who wasn't smart. I like a hero who cherishes his relationships, with family and friends, as well the heroine. Sensitive, thoughtful, supportive of the heroine's dreams and appreciative of her accomplishments, with a willingness to talk things out. A sense of real romance (I do like a man who dances in the moonlight and isn't afraid to hum off-key in a woman's ear). A great smile, used often, helps. Dimples never hurt. I guess it's obvious that I prefer the gamma man to the alpha man.
And there are loads more. GO SEE. Do you agree with them, disagree, have a favorite, have same qualities you look for in a hero in a book??? And even in there you can see that many of the authors distinguish between a hero on the page and a hero in real life... Like this one:
Pamela Morsi: A love of ironing and a willingness to pick up around the house. ...Okay, okay, you're talking fiction. The above is REAL LIFE. The most important thing is the hero's willingness to make a commitment. All other obstacles can be overcome, but only a man who can marry and live happily ever after can be a hero in romance fiction. That's my take on it, anyway.
So we're all agreed that we women know the difference between a hero on the page and a hero in real life, right? BUT - and here's where I'm gonna start the debate... Do we define the hero to MEN in real life and THATS why they think we're unrealistic in our expectations? Now THERE'S a question for you. Well it's not like they can drag us by the hair back to their cave these days is it? And there aren't that many of them with a white-charger and nice shiny armour...
So is one of the reasons the romance genre gets slammed for creating unrealistic expectations because it's not understood that we know the differences? 'Cos there's a fine line in those *differences* in the examples I've shown you. Yes, I like to think that my hero's on the page have those qualities - but you know what? - they'd kinda do it for me in real-life too if they had humour and honour and family values and confidence and - well, you get what I'm saying... so maybe the lines a little more blurry... hmmm... I mean it's not like I think men can't be heroic or lovable in real life if they're not a billionaire or a sheikh or a Prince or so drop dead gorgeous that just looking at them makes me go weak at the knees...
I mean we're not gonna write about smelly trainers or toilet habits or the way some of them can zone out the universe when the tv is on... we KNOW that. So that's not what I'm talking about here... Is anyone at all following this rambling? (There's a reason this blog is named what it's named)
So what makes's a hero a hero? What IS the difference between fiction and real-life? Have you seen the romance genre's representation of a hero change over the years? What would you change if you could change anything about them right NOW? Do we as writers have a certain responsibility in the definition of a hero??? Do any of you with boys feel a responsibilty to raise them as hero's of the future and what would you say that you'd see as heroic qualities for them to have in real life?
What IS a hero?
Told ya I'd been thinking about this some...
I'll be VERY interested to see what fellow writers and readers alike have to say on this one - I've been FASCINATED by it for days now... And then, in my link following a link following a link I tripped across this... and THAT'S why you got this blog...(the banner is a link btw)
Soooo... What makes a hero?