Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's Time to Break the Hero Mold!

Current Project: Proposals
Status: Making progress

Today I'm on my soapbox.
Two of My Heroes

Heroes; gotta love 'em! But riddle me this: How come it's okay to have a heroine who is (ahem) an armful (EX: Bet Me by Jenny Cruisie), but our heroes must be tall and buff?

Remember little David who slew Goliath using brains over brawn? There's proof that not all heroes have to be tall and buff. David's been admired for thousands of years.

My husband accuses us romance writers of writing heroes men can't easily relate to, because they're all too physically perfect.  I have to admit, I think he has a point. Character makes a true hero.

What do you think?


Paty Jager said...

My daughter made the same point one time. My come back. You have to remember that the hero and heroine in a romance are seeing each other with different eyes than the rest of the world.

Think about it. When you fall in love with someone you see them with a different eye than the rest of the world. Where someone else might think your hero's nose is a bit big, you think it fits his face and gives him a noble look. Or he isn't as muscular as some men but his arms feel strong and safe when they hold you.

I guess what I'm saying is in the eyes of the person who is falling in love or in love the other person will be a 10 but they may not be a 10 to others.

My thoughts on the topic. And how their looks are described ina book rarely coonects with me unless they have an abnormality. Otherwise they are "normal" people to me.

Genene Valleau said...

I like Paty's statement that a person who is falling in love will see their hero as a 10 though others might not think so.

The hero of my book, STARS IN YOUR EYES, was a slightly paunching, slightly neurotic leader of a rock band with a heart of gold--if you dug past his slightly curmudgeonly attitude. :)

But I do tend to have both my heroes and heroines be physically attractive, with their "flaws" emotional rather than physical. The secondary characters may be less perfect physically, though.

Though, like Paty says, this may be through my eyes because they've become real to me and I see them through the eyes of someone who loves and respects them.

You've given me food for thought!

Judith Ashley said...

I also agree with Paty. I've several friends who are married to men they see are gorgeous and I see them as average.

It isn't that thehero and heroine must be drop dead gorgeous, but they have some physical feature that attracts (eyes, mouth, hands, hair, the way s/he moves, etc.).

After all, I read romance novels to escape so I do want that bit of fantasy, where the hero sees something in the heroine that others do not and vice versa.

Sarah Raplee said...

Good points, everyone! And hooray for Genene! The hero in Alice Hoffman's book (one of my favorites) Turtle Moon is described as so ugly that, when he was a baby, the bees wouldn't sting him. But the heroine sees past that to the man he is, and she finds him extremely sexy.

Thank you all for adding to the discussion.

chanceofbooks said...

I think you see the buff hero in a lot of books, but I wouldn't say it's in ALL books. The "wounded warrior" hero is huge--Elizabeth Hoyt's To Beguile a Beast's hero is horrifyingly disfigured. And hot. Because he's hot to the heroine and we *get* that. Lorelei James's Shoulda Been a Cowboy's hero is missing a leg. But still off the charts smoking hot. Suzanne Brockmann's Unsung Hero's Hero is going bald. I love authors who dare to have shorter heroes too. Just like books with larger heroines, they ARE out there, you just have to dig a little deeper past all the beefcake covers. And note that several of the ones I mentioned have beefcake covers--marketing seems determined to slap naked man titty on the cover regardless, so it's worth the work to find the heroes who break the mold.

Sarah Raplee said...

I don't think men will ever get past the beefcake on the cover, Cloudy. At least, my husband won't.

But I'll have him try a couple of the books you mentioned. Maybe things are moving in the right direction!

Renee said...

I think it has to do with the essential fantasy of the reader: that she is identifying with the heroine and vicariously living the story, and therefore the hero is larger (er, more gorgeous) than life.

Personally, I would prefer the less hunky hero, because I find it pretty impossible to consider that I would be involved with a hunk. In real life, I'm attracted to guys who look more like Woody Allen than a body builder type. And that's because they're more likely to like me!

Of course, the women are usually hot, too.

Sarah Raplee said...

"I think it has to do with the essential fantasy of the reader" - good point, Renee!

It's great to know there ARE women out there who can fantasize about more realistic-looking characters. Thanks for stopping by.