Every couple years, I hit a point where I feel lonesome over particular men in my past.
Oh, not REAL guys but the heroes I’ve spent many happy (and sometimes frustrating) hours with.
MY guys, MY heroes…you know, the ones I dreamed up and spun tales about.
Sometimes they’ve been romantic comedy heroes, sometimes historical romance ones. At times, they’ve even had to solve mysteries. They always got the girl by the final page though sometimes they were up against her expectations of “this isn’t going to be a good idea” or their own “oh, no, no way” feelings when it comes to commitment.
Nearly all my heroes have the same qualities, and sometimes even the same dialogue!
For instance, I realized this past Christmas when I reread RING IN THE NEW that as they waited for the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, that Pat Lonergan said “taking too long” and kissed Mallory Meyers a few seconds early. Damned if in SUPERSTAR, Paul Montgomery didn’t say “taking too long” and kissed Aurora Chambers a few seconds before the year changed, too. Obviously, I want a guy to say and do that to me!
Some scenes just need to be played out more than once.
Or so my muse must think.
Not long ago I did a blog entry on my website about how I’d just realized that the template for my heroes had come together when I was ten and watching YANCY DERRINGER on television, probably with my dad who loved westerns. And there really does seem to be a template.
They are all tall. I have to remind myself to occasionally give one blond or sandy colored hair because I like men with dark hair. Well, my dad had really dark brown hair, just shy of being black, so probably not surprising. My first husband had dark hair and so did quite a few boyfriends throughout the years. (I did a lot of romantic research between the two marriages. That sounds so much better than that I was fickle, doesn’t it?)
They all have quirks, tend to be sarcastic. They’re not super alphas but they are alphas all the same. They swing with the punches, be it in a physical fight or a duck and weave in navigating the heroine’s quirks.
Yeah, they both have quirks. Apparently, I’m overflowing with them.
Usually they’ve absolutely no intention of settling down…until the story is winding to a close. Some have ended up with not only a wife but with her kids who are now warmly considered their kids.
Along the way they make mistakes. Sometimes really big ones. More often, smaller ones.
I think they are all pretty human.
And, fortunately, a lot of people – some of them even men who’ve read my books – think they sound and act like guys actually do.
Which is quite different from the way we gals do.
Points for me! Not everyone pulls off writing believable characters of the opposite gender. I’ve read quite a few male writers who hit the best seller lists regularly but can’t create a female character who is more than a cut out.
Granted, some of the guys in other writer’s books that I like spending reading time with are far more alpha, and troubled, than the men who flow from my pen, but there’s a good reason for that. There are times when I know those super alpha guys would irritate me to no end. They’re the male equivalent of “high maintenance” with all those detailed bedroom romps, which I find hell to write. At least I can get even with my own heroes, if necessary.
They don’t always do what I plan or expect them to do. Fortunately for them, I love ‘em anyway.
They’re my kids.
They’re me! Sorta.
Realized that when, back in the dark ages of the 1990s, I was interviewed by a local TV station as Valentine’s Day approached. The male interviewer had actually read and liked MR ANGEL, my most recent at the time romantic comedy. He said, “This is really a nice guy. Is it the kind of fellow you look for?” Without much forethought, I answered, “Probably not. He is ME, after all. Channeling my inner male side.”
But that isn’t quite right either. I really wouldn’t want to be a guy in the least, but I sure love spinning them to life on paper. Not even sure whether they’re totally the kind of guy I’ve looked for and haven’t found yet, either.
Well, not the already written ones. I have a feeling I’d like to keep one of the hero’s waiting in the wings for me to get around to his story. And I would run away with Paul Montgomery of SUPERSTAR, probably. Heck, he’s a musician and I’ve a weakness for them.
Oddly enough, I can remember the names of all the heroes in over two dozen published novels, two unpublished manuscripts, five in-progress manuscripts, and those I’ve yet to beginning writing a manuscript with, or is that “about”? Can I remember the heroine’s name? Maybe 50% of the time. Sometimes only part of her name.
I think that’s because when it comes to writing, I do it to have adventures with my heroes. I want to elbow the heroines out of the way. MY DUDE, not yours, sort of attitude.
More recently I’ve found an even better way to hang out with my heroes.
I started writing in first person with the hero telling the story. This means I really do get to be the hero!
And yet, no I’m not. I’m still hanging out with these guys, not actually being them.
How confusing it is to be a writer.
Are we the characters or are we not?
I think that in the end we aren’t. They do things we don’t or wouldn’t do. They frequently have different goals, different problems to deal with. They are made up of parts of characters we loved from other books, from movies, from cartoons, from television shows. From people we met or interacted with or observed. Sure, there’s a lot of us in them. We have them do things or say things that are impossible for us. We get to live other lives through them. More adventurous or more romantically satisfying or successful lives.
They are the daydream outlet.
Would I like to be one of my characters – be it the hero or the heroine? Heck, no! I put them through hell sometimes!
Okay, a lot of the time.
They really don’t mind. They are far more adventurous, daring, and romantic than I am in real life. And on paper IS their “real” life.
Characters are a conglomeration of things we like and problems to solve. Some writers insert their own experiences in their work – frequently that’s called “literary” and very rarely “genre” fiction, though. I don’t. It hasn’t been fun living parts of my life so why would I want to do it over again by putting a hero or heroine through it. Okay, so I gave Aurora Chambers my emergency appendectomy but not in the same way mine played out. That’s splitting hairs. My characters don’t live parts of my life. By the end of the story, theirs is on a happier path than mine frequently took. I live the happily ever after…for awhile…through them.
It’s probably why I go back and reread my own books every now and then. I miss hanging out with Rob, Mark, Harry, Adam, Jake, Matt, Ben, Caleb, Pat, Kevin, Sam, Fletch, Nate, Tim, Garrett, Deegan, J.W., Thorton, two Zacks, Max, Paul, Bram, and Tal, so I pick up their stories. I still get to hang out with Lang, Thane, Hank, Colt, Heath, Colum, Hugh, another Max, and future unnamed heroes in the wings. What does that make me?
A happy camper.
New workshop on the horizon. Hope you’ll join me here at Savvy Authors February 27 through March 26th for HELLO, MR. WEREWOLF, MS. DEMON to create some non-human or not all the time human characters.
Beth Daniels celebrates 27 years as a published writer in 2017. Her first novel was a romantic-suspense/comedy named after a stolen gem, NIKROVA’S PASSION, released in 1990. Hero’s name is Rob, by the way, if you want to pick him out from her listed guys.
Since then she’s written romantic-comedy, historical romance, YA romantic-comedy, and ventured into fantasy/comedy and mystery. Currently she’s working on the second book in an urban fantasy/mystery series, the start of a 2nd urban fantasy series, a Steampunk trilogy, a romantic-comedy, a historical romance/mystery, a Gaslamp fantasy, a time travel fantasy trilogy, and at least two mystery series. She writes fiction under three different names and non-fiction about writing as herself. Definitely a bit schizophrenic in what she writes and who she is when she’s writing it.
Visit Beth at www.RomanceAndMystery2.com, on Facebook at BethHendersonAuthor, or on Twitter @BethDaniels1, @Beth__Henderson, or @JBDaneWriter.