Wednesday, 28 August 2013

My Perfect Hero?

Misty grey, gunmetal grey or thunderstorm grey.  Clear like a dawn sky in summer, or the dark, rich blue of water irises. The warm amber of whisky or a deep, melting chocolate brown. What am I talking about? The eyes of my hero, of course! Dreaming up the hero of my story always starts with his eyes.
Alain Delon

I attended a romance writing workshop some time ago where the focus was on how to create the perfect hero. The workshop leader decreed that the hero of a romance novel should not be a nice man who wore a cardigan and who was happy with just holding the heroin’s hand whilst gazing at the stars. All these were definitely the attributes of an anti-hero, a man no reader in her right mind could ever fall in love with..
But what exactly did she find so unattractive? Was it the cardigan, or that the man was content with holding the heroin’s hand instead of ravishing her? Or again that he enjoyed gazing at the stars in her company?  
Jacques Dutronc

I remember thinking at the time that the most important quality a hero should have was to make me dream, to make me wish he was in my life for real. If it's true that I am not too keen on men wearing cardigans, they have actually become quite a fashion statement for younger men these past few years. Holding someone’s hand can be a most wonderful and romantic experience. As for star gazing, I only have to think of astronomy professor Brian Cox's soft voice, clever eyes and sexy smile for it to become the most exciting way of spending an evening!   

Brian Cox
So what kind of hero do I write about? I’m afraid he is rather predictable in that he is usually the tall, moody type. He is incredibly brave and confident, determined to carry out some important mission. If he is cynical at times, he does hide a dark, painful and haunting secret the heroin will, naturally, help him overcome. As I write historical romance, he is also a consummate rider and knows how to handle swords, daggers and pistols. And if there isn't a cardigan in sight, that's because they didn't exist in the time period I have chosen - honest!

He is the man I dream about, the man I write about and the man who lives in my head for weeks and months on end – in the case of my current work in progress, one year already!

But whichever country he is from, whatever occupation he has and whatever the plot, the background or the time period, the first and most important step is always for me to picture his eyes.

Robert Hossein
And of course, to get his name right. From the moment he has a name, he is in my life. But the choice of the hero's name is the topic of another post...
What about you? How do you create your perfect hero? And what type of hero makes you dream?


  1. What a wonderful post, Marie. I like my hero to be complicated, smart, and totally dedicated to his woman.

    Just wanted to let you know (in case you missed it) that you were a winner of one of my books on Helena's blog. Congrats!

  2. Thank you so much for visiting and for your comment Mary. Heroes...they do have to be complicated and smart, I forgot about that! I didn't know about winning your book, that's absolutely brilliant. Thanks!

  3. For me a hero is a man who rises above his fears or limitations in some way to achieve a good outcome to a struggle. But in a romance, of course he must be physically appealing. I agree about the eyes being an essential part of his charm. The hero of my latest story has such beautiful eyes that the heroine forgets who and where she is the first few times she meets him.... [pulsing heart and muscles turned to water] A dash of exoticism helps too. And I created him from a photo I just happened to see on the internet. He's so marvellous he now has two brothers, so he can linger in further adventures.
    I like your selection of heroes, Marie - and suggest pistols at dawn over Alain Delon as he was.

  4. Thank you for your comment, Beth. I know what you mean about wanting to stay with your hero longer, even when you have finished writing the book! Giving him brothers is a great idea! It was hard to pick my heroes, but Alain Delon, Jacques Dutronc and Robert Hossein are definitely a few of my favourites actors and singers.

  5. I do like the strong determined type. I love, still as an older woman, Edward Rochester. I fell in love with him when I was about fourteen. He has to be good looking but not necessarily handsome, a flaw can be very attractive (Robert Hossein) passionate of course but have eyes for just one woman, although that might not be obvious at first.

  6. That's exactly right, Margaret, the perfect hero has to be strong and passionate, and love only one woman! I too always had a special fondness for Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester.

  7. Heroes change from book to book, of course you can't be recycling the characters. But each story seem to generate its own hero and I can't predict what he's going to look like or how he'll act. Usually starts with a picture, some model or something on Facebook but yes, the eyes of that person seem to draw me in and story starts to unravel.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. (Sorry for the deleted comment, but I spotted a typing mistake!)
    You are right, every story needs a different hero, with different motivations. Photos are a great way to start. I don't usually base my hero on just one man, but I pick a few favourites and I 'mix things up' a bit! Thank you for visiting and for your great comment.

  10. Alain Delon every time, but Robert Hossein, mmm...the definitive Joffrey de Peyrac

    Yes, eyes - the door into the soul. However physically attractive a hero is, or isn't, the eyes are the most important part of that exterior as they reveal the interior.

  11. I totally agree, Alison, I don't necessarily think a hero has to be handsome but he needs to have that special something - and the eyes do reveal what makes him special. Thank you for your comment!