Do you read romance?
If you want to make a living writing romance, then I certainly hope so! Assuming you’re serious about it, then you’ve probably noticed some books make you want to throw them across the room while others have you turning the pages anxious to find out what happens. What is the difference between tossable books and those you want to read again and again?
In What Makes Great Romance Writing? Compelling Heroines, we talked about what makes a great heroine. Now let’s explore what it takes to create a hero, readers will fall in love with.
Passion – The hero, regardless of his race, age, size, career choice, or personality quirks, must find the heroine absolutely compelling. He must, even if she drives him crazy and gets on his every nerve, that she’s worth exploring, worth getting to know, and that even if she isn’t his normal ‘type’ he’s completely drawn to her physically.
He also needs to have passion for a cause. Like the heroine who has to have strength, the hero too will be tested. He must be passionate about resolving whatever conflict presents itself.
Think about Edward in Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. Edward is fascinated by Bella, a mere human. He spends days asking her all sorts of questions about herself, he makes a huge sacrifice to protect her and he is willing to suffer just to be near her.
Edge – Many compelling heroes are Alpha Males. They’re dominant, often dangerous, and they must be in charge. When balanced with the right heroine this can make for a fun filled ride, all that conflict and charged energy. When balanced with the wrong heroine, an alpha male can seem like a real jerk. That being said, a hint of danger works quite well too. Again, using Edward, who isn’t an alpha male but is most certainly dangerous because one wrong move and you could be dinner. He’s dark and brooding, the strong, silent type.
Manly – We love men because they’re…men. They’re more physical than women and rather than notice a woman’s charming personality, they’ll first notice her physical attributes. They solve problems even when we just want them to listen and they’re as insecure as women about all the normal things people are insecure about. They’re wonderful and your hero will be too, as long as you remember to make him realistic. He isn’t going to want to go shopping or notice that his sister cut her hair.
Smart – Smart men are sexy. This doesn’t have to mean he’s a bookworm but he’s going to be very good at whatever it is he does whether he’s an accountant or an undercover operative for the CIA.
Sexy as all get out – Unlike the heroine who shouldn’t be practically perfect in every way, UGH!, the hero can be an Adonis. Remember, women are reading your novels and they want to fall into the fantasy that a wonderfully sexy man can and will fall in love with an imperfect woman. Of course, each and every woman has their own idea of what is sexy. If you find your hero sexy and can bring that to the page, then your reader will too.
Your hero can make or break your story. To make a living writing romance, the key is to remember that you’re writing for genre fiction. Readers come into a story with certain expectations. They expect that the hero will be sexy, compelling, and someone worthy of the heroine. They also want the hero to be someone they can fall in love with, if only for a few hundred pages. It’s about the fantasy, that’s what makes great romance writing!