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Monday, September 5, 2011

Writing the PERFECT Hero

Congratulations to Alan, my AP colleague and this week's winner in my first-ever blog book give-away contest. To learn more, click on the little blue "Contest" tag at right. This is the last week, so climb aboard!

Last week we looked a little at what makes up a fictional hero, focusing first on what you'd notice first: his apearance. Now let's dig in to his personality.

Of course your hero must also be perfect, right? Otherwise he's not a hero! Let’s reconsider that idea. Imagine for a moment what it would be like to live with a companion who was never, ever wrong, who was always right, always knew it, but never, ever (not even once!) rubbed it in your face or behaved badly in any way.

Okay. So much for perfection. For our purposes here, let’s just say it is seriously overrated. We are human beings. We have flaws and imperfections. Sometimes our flaws are what others enjoy about us the most -- and I’m not talking about that bitter, nasty, high school enemy who was always trying to find some way to put you down. I’m thinking of the personality equivalent of Brooke Shields’ eyebrows or Lauren Hutton’s slight gap in her front teeth. We love what is different and outstanding about others.

So what is different and outstanding about your fictional hero? In my book, RIDE THE RAINBOW HOME, Jim McAllister has a gorgeous body, long blond hair, and a “crooked” smile. (Believe it or not, I didn’t realize my own smile is often crooked until I wrote Jim and my dh picked up the phrase to describe me.) Jim is also somewhat quick to anger, a touch on the impulsive side, and a just a touch jealous. He may not be perfect, but he’s perfect for Meg, and for purposes of my book, that’s what counts.

Brother Kurt, Alexa's hero in AT THE RAINBOW'S END, can be more than a little bit jealous. He is also a bit old-fashioned in his ideas about the proper roles of men and women, so Alexa needs to teach him a few things before he is ready to be her equal. The trick is, in the end, she has Kurt. When you'll meet him, you'll know that's a pretty good deal.

What are the little human traits that make your characters seem more real?

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