By M.K. Schiller (Guest Blogger)Sorry if the title is misleading, but I hope I got your attention! I want to chat with you all about one of my favorite aspects of writing…creating characters, especially palatable protagonists. When I read a book, I want to identify with the heroine, but I desperately need to fall in love with the hero. I want a visceral reaction of my own – one that may induce swooning, sighing, and smirking when taken in large quantities. The substance of a great hero is a culmination of many internal and external factors, and the choices are like an endless buffet. It’s like your mother always said, ‘you won’t know if you like it, unless you try it.’
Recently, a critique partner told me the hero in my current work-in-progress was somewhat beta. I disagreed, choosing to view him as a gentle bodice ripper. The kind of man who will defend the heroine to his death, but does not actively look for a fight (he is a college math major after all). However, the comment made me think about how to marinade and season the perfect alpha/beta male specimen, so I started a list.
In my humble opinion, the ultimate hero is muscular, but not overly so... more swimmer than weight lifter. His eyes can be blue, green or red for all I care, but they have to be sparkling or mischievous. Sprinkle in some unique character traits like jagged scars, meaningful tattoos (not overly done), or boyish dimples to add zest. As for danger, it has to make sense or it will overpower your creation. He’s not dangerous because he’s stupid. He’s dangerous because he’s protecting someone (probably our heroine), or he works in a field that commands it. I’m not into bad boys without a purpose.
My hunky hero is savory and sweet. He’s incredibly smart and successful, but occasionally silly and spontaneous too. The kind of guy that can laugh at himself. He’s loyal even if he doesn’t realize it. He’s cocky enough to be confident about his sex appeal, but not conceited. He’s the jealous type, but not obsessive. He has angst…lots and lots of angst to pepper his character. Women are nurturing in general, and this ingredient makes the final dish more mouth-watering. Then again, maybe he’s just normal and has the right amount of sugar to cure our acidic heroine. Add in a heaping cup of charm, a pinch of fury (for drama), a teaspoon of selfishness (to make him real), a hearty dash of rebellion (I like my food spicy), and there you have it! My recipe for a yummy hero, Witches of Eastwick style. It’s pretty cool to be an author!
It’s not enough to just describe him though, because I think many women would have similar ingredients in their cupboards, and we don’t want all our dishes to taste the same (most embarrassing when you’re at a potluck). So, let me give you some examples. If you’ve ever seen Jerry McGuire, I love Tom Cruise’s character…yes, he had me at hello. He was a self-absorbed, fickle man that didn’t see his flaws, until he meets the heroine and her adorable little boy. Then there’s George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life –I know it’s not a romance, but I love this movie. A very different hero who sets aside his own life for others, yet he always felt cheated by the sacrifices he made, until a certain angel crosses his path. Finally, there is Christian Grey from Fifty Shades of Grey fame. I know there are some differing opinions here, but there’s something to be said about a man who’s both powerful and vulnerable. If you had told me a few years ago I’d find a man who got off on dominating woman and had mommy issues irresistible, I’d say you were crazy, but that’s exactly what E.L. James did. She made me fall for that man. Now, I love dominating men as much as fiery shrimp Gumbo.
Isn’t that what a good story should do - make you think outside the box, or in this case, the casserole pan? The three examples above probably have you wondering if I’ve lost my mind, but the reality is, like the food we eat, the hero we choose to love is subjective. You may not love my hero choices, and if they were placed in another time or setting I might not love them either. It takes too much or not enough of one ingredient to spoil the whole pot. That’s what’s so great about an enticing hero - he’s flavorful, but everyone’s taste buds are different. No matter what your preference is, always heat on high and serve piping hot!
I am honored that Lisabet asked me on her blog. I am new employee at the hero factory, with my debut novel set to come out on July 26th from Total-E-Bound, but I do love a tasty hero. I would love to hear from all of you. Please leave a comment about what traits you like in a protagonist either physical or emotional. Give specific examples if you can. One lucky commenter will receive a $10 US Amazon gift card. Just send me an email (make sure it’s the same email you want the gift card sent to) to mk @ mkschillerauthor dot com with a copy of your comments and link. I’ll enter you in the drawing to take place on July 13. Please note I won’t keep your email addresses unless you specifically ask to be on my email distribution list.
Also, please consider picking up a copy of The Other C-Word, my debut novel and let me know if you think my hero is a recipe worth passing around.
The Other C-Word will be available from Total-E-Bound on July 26th and all other sites in late August.
Can she overcome her consuming desire for him? Can he make her comfortable with the other C-word…commitment?
Marley Mason is dreading the arrival of the new business consultant. After all, this man will most likely outsource her job to China. The last thing she would expect is a case of mistaken identity, leading to false accusations of kidnapping when she attempts to pick up the wrong man at the airport, or worse…that she would have such a visceral reaction to the right man.
Rick Randy is super sexy, scandalously flirty and perfect masturbation material, but a relationship is out of the question. Rick is contracted on a temporary basis to fix Marley’s ailing company, and then pull out, although as he expresses to Marley, pulling out is difficult for him, in more ways than one! Marley’s feelings range from utter confusion to intense contemplation as Rick charms his way into her life. All of those C-words Marley can control, but it’s the other C-word she fears—commitment.
MK Schiller is a hopeless romantic in a hopelessly pragmatic world. Every evening, she sits by the warm glow of her computer monitor, and conjures up handsome heart-warming heroes and the vivacious heroines they love. Although she loves to write, she is a reader first and enjoys nothing more than curling up with a good book and some tasty Italian (the food, of course!).