Monday, November 5, 2007

Hail, the Conquering Hero

Fearless. Courageous. Intense. Magnetic. And so, so sexy. Caught your attention, have I? Well, that's the idea. After all, I'm describing that paragon of masculinity, the hero. We romance writers create them for a living. But coming up with the perfect imperfect man isn't quite as easy as you'd think.

It is, however, a lot of fun.

Whichever way you prefer them, golden or dark, charming or brooding, fanged or winged (and around here, fangs and wings are only scratching the surface of possibility!) it's true that all heroes have certain qualities that make them, well, heroic. Whether or not they're good-natured about it, whether or not it's the role they've always longed for, some men are just destined to save the day (occasionally even the world) and get the girl. But what, exactly, makes the true hero a man apart? And why, even when they're dragging a sword around the countryside looking mean and hating life, do we still love 'em so much? They're questions every writer has to ask herself before breathing life into the latest man-of-her-dreams. Because heroes are complicated creatures by nature, often walking the fine line between things like "Alpha" and "jerk." And it's finding that balance that means the difference between your heroine wanting to throw herself into his arms or just throw him out the window.

Lucky for us, studying the subject could never truly be called a chore. And really, any profession that gives me an excuse to look at Gerry Butler a lot is darn near perfect anyway.

The options are limitless. My own favorite heroes run the gamut from sweet, like Tristan Thorn in Stardust, to dark and a little tortured, like Aragorn with all of his One-Ring-related baggage. I even have my own real-life hero at home, a Navy fighter pilot who thinks nothing of putting his life on the line on a regular basis for his country. On the surface, they don't have much in common. But they all deserve the title of "hero" for their ability to rise to any occasion, kick some bad guy butt, and come away the victor. Well, usually. I won't normally read or watch heroes who die in the end, because, surprise, I'm a little invested in my Happily-Ever-Afters! That makes me a teary drag at most Oscar-nominated movies, true. But watching and reading the sort of men who conquer and triumph for a living helps me really hone in on the task of turning a gorgeous, flawed idea of a male character into the sort of hero that does the back of my cover (and God willing, the front as well) justice. He can be anything, as long as he's the kind of guy who ultimately won't accept anything less than winning it all...and makes you want it for him too.

So as you may have guessed, we here at the Otherworld Diner are about to dive into the endlessly fascinating subject of The Hero. Who are our favorites, in books, film, and even regular life? How do we go about creating them in our own writing? And finally, which ones are we, um, fondest of looking at in our spare time? We'll be serving up some fun discussion of these questions and more over the next two weeks, so stick around. There's bound to be something for everyone who loves a good hero...not to mention some eye candy along the way! Now if you'll excuse me, I have a standing lunch date with the tall, dark, fire-breathing gentleman in booth three...

-Kendra

5 comments:

  1. Ah, Viggo and Gerry. Definitely wouldn't kick them out for eating crackers in my bed. (Don't tell my hubby I said that!) Matthew McConaughey and Alex O'Loughlin aren't too shabby either. Brendan Fraser happens to be my inspiration of the moment for my dragon-knight hero. *G*

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  2. Gotta love a hero. Lucky Kendra to have married one. Please tell dh thank you for his service.

    Write on, sister.

    talia

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  3. Here's to courage, on screen and off!
    debralee

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  4. Lori, Brendan Fraser is and always will be adorable. Maybe it's the smile and puppy dog eyes, I dunno. But a great model for a dragon/knight! And thanks, Talia, I will. He's very "aw, shucks" about it, but he and the guys he works with are pretty amazing. Now if only he would start putting his stuff IN the hamper instead of in front of it...

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  5. Thank you again, Kendra, for posting today! Brendan Fraser is on my list, too.

    Jody W.

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