Heroes: Definitely a matter of taste, but there are certain essentials: generous size, just the right amount of fillings, nicely toasted buns. But it’s not just the, um, pastrami that counts.
In keeping with most readers, I have strong and unapologetic opinions about what a hero should be like. For starters, I don’t have much patience with the über alpha knuckle-dragger who mows through a story muttering MINE MINE MINE and marking his territory, incl. the heroine, like a Tom cat with urinary issues. (Anyone remember Red Dwarf?)
I like a manly man, but one who actually likes the fact that the heroine is her own person. Sure, he can untie her from the train tracks and sweep her away to a mountaintop chalet for a solid week of mind-blowing sex …that’s all part of the fun…but if two characters are the missing halves of each other seeking a zen-like balance, neither one can be completely in charge all the time.
But he can’t be too perfect, either. Realistic characters don’t have everything figured out on page one. For there to be growth, for hero to fall in love and, y’know, to have a plot, there’s probably stuff he needs to learn. And, if the hero is still searching for the ultimate designer wardrobe, weaponry, or the meaning of life, the heroine has something substantial to offer him. Advice. Comfort. Padded hangers. Whatever.
And he might not realize right away what a wonderful gift he’s been given, because a good protagonist usually screws up at least once. We bond with them because of their mistakes. Who doesn’t love a hero all the more when he finally sees the light and set out to make things right? It’s their struggle to be better that gives the reader courage and hope.
Speaking of bonding … I love the latest Bond incarnation, because—even though he’s, like, Bond—he gets dirty, hurt, grumpy and doesn’t always have the right answer. I can believe he walks the earth (and please give me his address).
So, for all you dark heroes taking notes, a few miscellaneous tips:
• Don’t sniff your date, even if you are a werewolf. It sends the wrong message.
• Allow your date to set the pace of courtship. Just because she’s your destined mate doesn’t mean she won’t get a restraining order.
• Don’t brag about your wardrobe, limitless personal fortune, or private army. It makes us want to poke you in the eye.
• Don’t claw the furniture, bedsheets, chew on the carpet, or shed. Shift in the back yard, for pity’s sake.
• If you’re Undead, let your new girl know early in the relationship. Corpse Surprise on the morning after can put chill a promising friendship, not to mention your lover’s feet.
• Most important, consult a professional hairdresser for a good shampoo. All that black clothing has its challenges.