Managing Secondary Characters

March 19, 2008 at 10:10 am | Posted in Bria, character, hero, writing | 2 Comments
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Secondary characters can make or break a story. They bring in the texturing that colors the line of your hero or heroine’s character. They can mirrors, foils, instigators, protectors, fall guys, scapegoats, cheerleaders, misdirectors – the list goes on and on.

So, if you have a great secondary character, how do you fulfill his destiny?

Just like in life, treat everyone well and they’ll respond. Your secondary character should have a full life and vivid life.

Here’s an example of how I brought my SC’s (Tane) backstory out while keeping the focus on the main character (Brennid, the crown prince.)

Tane reacts strongly to Brennid threatening to have the heroine ride with him. The heroine – obviously – is a bit annoyed by Tane’s revulsion. Brennid keeps the heroine with him and tells her why:

Tane had Brennid’s older brother at the rear of the line with him when they were attacked and the then-crown prince was killed.

Having Brennid tell the story, we hear his pain and how the death of his beloved older brother nearly destroyed him – BUT we read between the lines and learn Tane’s motivation for his obsessive need to protect Brennid.

Brennid stays the focus, we learn a bit more of his why/where/how/when and at the same time divulge Tane’s number one objective and it’s reasoning.

Speaking of objectives – SCs should have no more than one personal objective and it should relate to the MC in some way.

Tane’s personal objective is to protect the prince (the main character.) Everything he does on the page is to that end.

Tane has his own love interest, an interesting backstory and some twists and turns along the way that have made him a favorite with my readers. But a book can only be so long and only belong to so many, so most of Tane’s non-Brennid related stuff happens off the page.

How do we keep them in line? Well, I’ll be honest. One of my favorite chapters was Tane reacting to his love interest’s dismissal. I played by the rules and kept the Main Characters there and involved, but in the end the focus was on Tane, it didn’t further the plot – or anything for that matter – it was just a lovely peek into a behind the scenes romance.

And so it got cut.

The story as a whole became tighter. Tane’s desperation became something real to me – not only to protect Brennid, but to keep Demia at his side. Which helps make later actions when he allows Brennid to misbehave make sense as it also brings him closer to Demia.

So write the scenes and then cut them – but know them. They’re just as real as your main character.

I’m going to paraphrase (hopefully well and hopefully correctly) the amazing Suzanne Brockmann: Pretend all your characters are standing on a line together. In this scene/chapter/book whoever has the spotlight on him takes a step forward and then another and so on. Everyone on that line steps forward as well. We may not know what they are doing or where they are, but time is consistent (something you won’t hear a fantasy writer admit to all the time) and no one is standing around waiting for the hero to invite them back onto the page.

If you ever get a chance to hear Suzanne speak about managing Secondary and Tertiary characters in a series RUN, don’t walk, to sign up for it (or buy the tape). She changed the way I think about timing, involvement, activity and focus.

Here’s one more way to think about it: We all have that friend. You know the one. She’s off living her life and only calls when she needs something. But the most annoying thing about her is she assumes that while she’s having a full life, she assumes you’re waiting around to hear about her “adventures” and have nothing at all interesting to share. She’s that person that asks you “How are you?” but means “Ask me how I am?”

Don’t be that friend to your Secondary Characters.
Now, Go Write
-bria

Villains and Anti-Heroes

March 17, 2008 at 6:34 am | Posted in character, hero, Jessica, writing | 2 Comments

I have been kicking around RWA for a few years and am so proud to say that I have learned so much during this period of time. The more I learn, I realize there is more and more that I really don’t know, which, for me, is a challenge I find both vexing and exciting.  

When I have those A-HA! and WELL, DUH! moments, I feel such pride for making such strides to those points of recognition.  

I can only speak to my experiences in romance writing circles, and in that context I think I can safely say that we all share a common vernacular. GMC, POV, Hero’s Journey, etc. Having been around writers during these years I developed a basic understanding of what these things are, but it wasn’t until I stumbled across some pretty stellar examples where I felt like I truly got it

 When I wrote my first book I had not yet found RWA or any mentors in the writing world and point-of-view was not something I grasped. I sheepishly realized how flawed my first book was when mentors and friends explained the basics of POV to me. However, it wasn’t until I read the three stories found in Lori Foster’s Fallen Angels book that I visually understood point of view. I highly recommend these stories as great and clear examples of how to handle POV.  

I had a similar A-HA! moment when I heard our upcoming April Honorary Heartlette, Eileen Rendahl, speak on the Chick Lit Hero’s Journey. I felt like I got it in a much better and different way after hearing Eileen speak and reading her books.  

So what do either of these examples have to do with villains or anti-heroes? I have learned that having a concrete example is one of the best learning tools for me. And the most excellent example of the villain or anti-hero I have yet to come across was in the Spike TV series The Kill Point

If you have not yet seen it, I don’t want to play spoiler, but the series stars Donnie Wahlberg as the cop who catches the call when John Leguizamo’s character and a group of his men rob a bank and things go horribly wrong.

It’s a crime drama, so naturally his show pits right against wrong. We see the side of the law . . . in this case we see Donnie Wahlberg as the level-headed hero. We count on him to diffuse the situation, save the day, restore order. We see him having to navigate the demands of work and family, the egos of his bosses, the tangled net of bureaucracy, the intrusive weight of the FBI . . . even the power and influence of the most successful in-town business owner. We sympathize with the competence and integrity of our hero, secure in the knowledge our hero will defeat the bad guys in spite of the additional obstacles he faces.

But just how wrong are these bad guys? John Leguizamo (called Mr. Wolf), as the captain of the crew, is the head ‘bad guy’, thus starring as the villain in this show. We know that robbing banks is bad and in that way he broke the law and deserves to be punished. But as the audience learns why – what his goals, motivation, and conflicts are – sympathies start to turn. At least mine did.

His backstory revealed injustice, grief, courage, and responsibility. His own struggles with right and wrong made sense to me. His being constantly kicked while down, yet still getting up and fighting back was something I found . . . heroic.

I found myself rooting for Mr. Wolf. I wanted him to get away with the heist, with all that money, to disappear and find his happily ever after. I wanted people to forgive him his transgressions and to heal his hurts. His character was so compelling, drawn in such an effective way, I couldn’t help but want him to win. For me, this was a stunning visual example not just on how to create a villain, but how to draw and layer all characters and their complexities.

In his book, The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler says that villains are the heroes of their own stories. In The Kill Point, the characters have been created in such a way where the lines between hero and villain blur . . . to the point where the villain truly could be the hero of not only his own story, but the entire story. Only the obvious points of the law clearly delineate the difference.

When I see such stunning working examples of writing, I sit back and say — “Oh, how I wish I could write that!” So I keep my eyes open for learning opportunities and I keep practicing and persevering.

May you have lots of your own A-HA and WELL, DUH moments . . . may you find them in pleasantly unexpected places . . . and may you keep writing!

-Jessica

Chemistry research- it’s not just a high school class

February 15, 2008 at 3:32 pm | Posted in hero, heroines, Meg, research, young adult | 1 Comment

Last week I talked about hotties and this week, since yesterday was Valentine’s Day (and since I’m horrible at research), I thought I’d continue along this vein and focus on chemistry. You know, that elusive quality between two people that catches your breath, causes a lump in your throat, makes you smile or touches your heart. It’s invisible, but you see when it’s there, and know when it’s not.You see it in the movies. The two main characters’ eyes meet and the screen comes alive; the temperature in the theatre turns up a notch. You forget you’re surrounded by strangers and find yourself holding your breath. Some random examples are: Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Patrick Dempsey in Lucky Seven, Jude Law and Cameron Diaz in The Holiday, Ashton Kutcher and his love interest in The Guardian.

On television, I live for The Office. The first few seasons, when Jim would gaze longingly at Pam across the room or when they would joke around. Ahhh. A shit-eating grin always spread across my face. And I feared all summer that their chemistry would not continue if they started dating (yes, sometimes I exert too much emotional energy into my entertainment world) as often happens (cite the Dave and Maddie fiasco of Moonlighting), but never fear, Jim and Pam are hotter than ever. I also noticed it last night as I watched the Masterpiece theater’s version of Northanger Abbey (and yes, I know for true Jane Austen fans, these versions don’t measure up). When Mr. Tilney smirks at Catherine Morland, a silly flutter goes through me. The two actors have that special something that brings a sunny day to normally dismal London (or Bath in this case). Or what about Sydney Bristow and Vaughn. Or Pacey Witter and Joey? The list goes on and on.

And in books, I’ve had my heart skip a beat as I read many novels. Nora Roberts is the queen of chemistry. Rarely does she write a book not swimming in it. Others noteworthy to mention are: Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight (yeah, I know, I continue to rave), Mildred Lee’s The People Therein (my all time favorite book as an early teen) and…

Chemistry between the hero and heroine is hard to come by. Usually I’ll watch or read something and I’m left feeling empty, that something’s missing. I don’t feel the characters or the story. I’m probably the only one in the world who’s glad McDreamy has moved onto Rose in Grey’s Anatomy. I think they have that special something. That extra fizzle that I never felt between him and Dr. Grey—wow, I can’t even remember her first name right now. That’s how forgettable their interactions are for me. LOL

And that’s the ultimate goal with your characters. You want the reader to remember them long after they close the book. You want them to be so lifelike and full of energy together, that the reader begs for a sequel and dreams of the characters.

How do you create this chemistry in your writing? Well, research. You watch those movies and television shows with your thesaurus nearby to determine the words to capture what you see. Or you write down the responses of the hero or heroine in the books and see how you can regenerate them (without plagurizing). Or you people watch- one of the best ways to garner information on human interactions.

<>As for my own research, I might elaborate Jessica’s grand idea of bridal research (Jess- I love this idea and will go with you anytime!). Since I’m stuck on the YA, maybe I will pull a 21 Jump Street and go undercover in a high school (when I walked the halls of one a few years ago, I was asked for my hall pass, so maybe I could pull it off). Or hang out at the mall or local dining establishment. Maybe that’s what I need- immersion in the world I want to build. And the world of YA is much easier to visit than a sci-fi fantasy. Or is it?

-Meg

<>

How to use a hottie

February 8, 2008 at 12:17 pm | Posted in character, hero, Meg, television, writing | 3 Comments

Hottie. Cutie pie. Sweetheart. Sex personified.Whatever you call ‘em, we love ‘em. Men who make us smile, sigh, blush, catch our breath, quiver, melt, beg, laugh, flirt and want more. Men who inspire us to wake up early to shower and shave (our legs), put on makeup, wear sexy clothes, exercise and keep ourselves looking good. Men who cause us to toss our hair with that silly little giggle or bat our eyelashes. Men who might come between you and a good friend or break your heart into a million pieces.

Hollywood has an unrealistic percentage of them. There’s Patrick Dempsey on Grey’s Anatomy- he could cut open my brain anytime. Or Chad Michael Murray on One Tree Hill- how I’d get in trouble if I were his teacher! And let’s not forget Lost– I don’t think I’d be trying to get off the island if I were trapped with Jack, Sawyer and Locke (something about that man just melts my butter). And a few American Idol hopefuls have me actually tuning in this season. I love television!

And what about in my real world? There’s the teenager I met last week- the way he twirled his pencil mesmerized me. I couldn’t stop staring at his hands. Or the juvenile probation officer I worked with a decade ago whose humor and voice caressed my ears and made me crush on him before we even met. And an old childhood friend who always knows exactly what to say to elicit a blushing smile.

All of these hotties in my life (real and theatrical) get used in my writing. That adolescent’s hands will entice and tingle the virginal skin of my YA heroine. The PO inspired the hero in my first novel (one I just might drag out and dust off again). And the childhood friend’s comments made their way into the mouth of the hero in my second women’s fiction. And there’s no denying the resemblance between Patrick Dempsey and my last hero- the twinkling blue eyes and magnetizing smile.

Psychologist call this sublimation, or the act of transforming unwanted impulses into something less harmful. You see, I’ve been married over ten years to my own hottie. He’s sweet, smart, sexy, funny and lights my candle (lol- the clichés are getting thick aren’t they?). BUT, he’s nowhere in my writing. You’ll never find a hint of him in my characters. Why? My writing is fantasy. It’s the energy behind all those naughty thoughts I’ve ever had about other men put into something constructive and positive. I don’t think I need to explain my outlet for mischievous thoughts about my husband, do I? 😉

So your assignment this weekend, if you choose to accept it, is to find a hottie. Maybe it’s a complete person, or some quality of someone (in your real life or theatrical) and figure out what makes that person a hottie. Then use that in your writing. Juice up your hero- his voice, his looks, his mannerisms and behavior. Make him HOT!

-Meg

What Makes a Hottie?

February 4, 2008 at 7:27 am | Posted in character, hero, Jessica, Tina Ferraro, writing, young adult | 5 Comments

In having Tina Ferraro with us this week, we thought it might be a fun topic to talk about hotties.

I’ve had this conversation with my guy-friends and girl-friends alike – what are the qualities you find attractive? And it’s almost always a chicken-and-the-egg kind of discussion . . . you notice someone because you find him attractive, but then you get to know him and are attracted to his other qualities, which then makes him even more physically appealing . . . and those other qualities are what keeps you attracted. Or you get to know him and you learn about all those un-redeeming qualities and, on second glance, you wonder what the heck ever attracted you to him in the first place.

Either way, would you have even given him the time of day without the initial hot little zing that the first glimpse sends shooting from your tummy to your toes?

I admit, I am a sucker for tall, dark, and handsome . . . devilishly, deeply brown eyes . . . a crooked smile . . . beautiful teeth . . . has a great set of hands . . . and is someone who looks good and is as comfortable when he’s dressed up as he is when he’s casual.

I have to say, though, I think hotties come in all shapes and sizes. A bald muscle-man is just as yummy as a lean, nerdy-intellectual-in-glasses. It’s all about how comfortable he is with himself and how he treats the girl in his life.

And how adorable is it when he has some sort of idiosyncratic habit – maybe he crinkles his eyebrows when he concentrates, or ducks his head when he’s embarrassed, or stuffs his hands in his pockets when he doesn’t know what to say. Maybe his voice drops to a softer, hushed, intimate tone when you’re alone together . . . something that speaks more about the way he feels about you than any words can relay.

I love a guy who is intelligent with a smart sense of humor. Someone who has opinions based on experience, not someone who spouts off just to hear himself talk.

But I’ve also learned it’s not all about the packaging. That he’s at his hottest if he’s well-mannered, holds the door for me, or offers to help me carry my bags. That he shows concern, looks out for me, gives me space, or is there for me when I need him most.

My favorite kind of hottie is the one who makes the best kind of friend.

So in the spirit of hottie week here at the Purple Hearts, what makes your hottie list?

Post a hottie comment to any of the blog posts this week to be eligible for our end-of-week drawing to win a copy of Tina Ferraro’s How to Hook a Hottie.

Thanks for visiting! Keep writing!
-Jessica

Look back and Laugh

October 31, 2007 at 9:07 am | Posted in Bria, character, creativity, dialogue, Fast Draft, format, hero, inspiration, self-editing, writing | 2 Comments

I’m away at a week long writer’s retreat and so this week’s blog is my top ten of my own posts – feels like cheating, except I’m looking over my own stuff, so it’s a good review for me, right?

1.        The Grand Gesture
I love this post. The childhood story really happened, I love to think about what makes a good hero and, best of all, Elizabeth Boyle commented – I mean, seriously.
Which brings me directly to #2

2.     Too Perfect
It takes a look at how having a perfect hero isn’t perfect, it’s annoying and a little weak. A quick shout out to Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages helps to look at creating a more realistic character – especially the hero or heroine.
Sticking with heros and men is #3

3.   Sexy is as Sexy Does
Let’s take a look at what’s attractive AND what isn’t.

4.     Where the HECK is my Blog
Yet another reference to my own quirky-luck and self competitiveness.

5.     Dialogue and Punctuation
A writer’s rant turned into a public resource. LSU linked to us as a resource for how to punctuate dialogue — I’m so glad it was helpful to people. The basics should be what slow your writing down.

6.     My Blog Crush
More of my quirky look at life – I took the idea of a new inspiration and turned it into, apparently, a running joke online. The poet really is very good and one of the places I go when I need to re-think how I’m using words.  Right now that place is Tamara Pierce – how does she squeeze those stories in 55K words?

7.     The World In My Head
Yes, I’m one of those people who can be alone in a crowded room creating my own world. Especially during Fast Draft time such as this post fell into.  I KNOW some of you are doing NaNoWrMo, so you must know how I feel forced to focus all my energy in that one story for 2 weeks straight. 20 pages a day, what was I thinking – Thanks Candy Havers!

8.     What I Can’t/Won’t Write
This post got a lot of attention from people commenting off the blog about my willingness to throw this idea out there. Thanks for supporting my stand with my own personal values.

9.     Story Serendipity
Thank goodness for it!  That’s all I have to say.

10. Formatting Your Baby
It caused controversy in the comments and the FlanTastic chat, but the info there was checked by two print editors so I’m standing by it.
Well, this was fun. Hopefully right now I’m at the retreat writing a masterpiece — or at least not embarrassing myself too badly. 

Let me know your thoughts — I always love to hear feedback, positive and negative (yes, I said negative screw the “constructive.”)

Go Write
-bria
 

What makes a superhero super?

July 19, 2007 at 2:07 pm | Posted in character, hero, Meg, storytelling, writing | Leave a comment

The other day, I had three bonafide superheroes battling bad guys in my backyard. Now, before you think I’m nuts, I should admit something. I’m a mom.So as a mom, I tend to multi-task and as I supervised the activity to ward off any major injuries, I thought about the heroes topic and took advantage of the situation. I interviewed the costumed boys and asked the question: What makes a superhero great?

Spiderman 2 said: super powers
Spiderman 3 answered: he fights the bad guys
Teen Titans’ Robin shared: his weapons

I thought about this and wondered how it relates to creating a heroic character in romance novels. And decided these kids could teach a workshop on character development.

Every hero should have super powers. These are different from his weapons, which I’ll explain next. Super powers are the positive innate qualities bestowed upon him by his creator that make him larger than life. They can be a sense of humor, kindness, joie de vive, sensitivity, intelligence, etc. These super powers attract the reader and tug at the heart.

The weapons of a literary hero can be viewed in two ways. First, there are the weapons he uses to woo- money, dimples, his cute dog that chases down the veterinarian heroine. Then there are the ones that cause the ‘boy loses girl’ conflict. These include his sarcastic wit, misconstrued flirtatious behavior, prior relationships and baggage, etc. The hero uses his weapons to save or destroy depending upon the stage in the story.

There is a reason for these super powers and weapons. They empower and aid the romantic hero in battling whatever stands in the way of the heroine’s happiness. Or at least he helps (my feminist influence tends to have the hero as more of a sidekick). His role is to use his powers and weapons for good, to battle whatever evil keeps him and the heroine from happiness.

So the next time you are stuck as you try to create a male character women would fall in love with, think of these three aspects of the superhero: his positive qualities, potential destructive flaws and essential role in the heroine’s life. Rent the latest superhero movie and dissect these aspects. And if you’re still stuck, don a superhero costume and battle some bad guys in your backyard. The giggling factor alone is worth it.

-Meg

The Grand Gesture

July 18, 2007 at 9:52 am | Posted in Bria, hero, life, procrastination, romance, writing | 4 Comments

It could be the fact that I’ve been editing and writing until ungodly hours for the last week and a half, it could be knowing I’ll be unemployed in 9 days, it could be the darn PMS. But I really think it was the story.

So I’ve been procrastinating.

Last night I wrote/edited nothing (per Meg Heartlette who told me I obviously needed a 24 hour reprieve). Instead I chatted with (distracted) a fellow Romance Diva for a good hour keeping her from her writing (but she’s just so fun to chat with!)

This morning, ignoring the fact that I needed to write about heroes, I started browsing blogs, looking to see what people back from RWA Nationals had to say.

Elizabeth Boyle is so under-rated. I’ve seen some reviews of her work that I feel are just off. If she writes a book, I read it. Enough said. So, when I was stalling and saw a link to her blog – of course I had to head over. And there it was. Right there on the left-hand side bar of her website: “My Favorite Hero.”

Wasn’t I supposed to be writing about heroes this week? ‘Click’

<>Often, romance readers get swept up and don’t believe love and romance happen in the real world. I don’t expect the grand gesture in my life – they don’t happen, men don’t understand the concept. Right? Wrong – and Miss Boyle’s husband had me swooning. That started me thinking about what real-life grand gestures look like and the first one I saw. I grew up in small town America where the cows outnumbered the people, one main road ran through the center and stoplights and street lights didn’t exist. The big event of the week was the parent’s softball game where the kids were given free run of the town green.

This particular summer I was ten-years-old, when ten was still considered young, 15 pounds underweight and all freckles and elbows. It was my turn to watch the pastor’s two-year-old daughter and she cuddled in my lap as I watched the other kids run around in circles as if they were getting somewhere.

As they all disappeared to the other side of the bandstand, ‘The Boy’ came over to sit with me and told me how boring it was being my week to baby-sit. Even then his blue eyes were to die for. Across Rt. 58, where the woods drifted down a hill to the bogs, were the most beautiful crab-apple blossoms peeping through the rushing cars.

“You can smell them when the wind turns.” It was an off handed comment to fill the silence.

The next thing I knew, The Boy was dodging cut-thru traffic to the far side of the road. On his way back, the blaring horns made the baby reach up to cover her ears as he waved a fist full of blossoms at the cars as they screeched to a halt.

Climbing back up the green’s hill with a loopy smile on his face, he threw himself down beside us. Handing the girl almost all the flowers, he announced he’d rescued them from the tree for the little princess.

And then, taking the last blossom and pushing it behind my ear, he whispered there, “But I saved the prettiest one for her babysitter.”

Years later that Boy must be deadly.

I’d loved to hear about your grand gesture – and I’d love for you to read Miss Boyles, it made my heart skip: http://www.elizabethboyle.com/meet.htm

And after you’ve done that, Go Write!

-bria

A Hero Is More Than A Sandwich

July 16, 2007 at 9:06 am | Posted in hero, Jessica, writing | Leave a comment

Bria closed out last week by introducing the topic of heroes, and I have been thinking about the topic all weekend, trying to list the qualities that I find to be heroic. The list was a pretty long one, which made it all the more hard to make the leap to the list of my most memorable heroes from books or movies.

A good one is just so hard to find.

In modern fiction, we refer to the hero as the main protagonist in the story. The hero can be male or female and, for the most part, all we ask is that they walk the road of the hero’s journey, show some growth, and come out changed on the other side. That’s a pretty reasonable expectation, I’d say.

But when I conjure up the image of a true bring-me-to-my-knees kind of hero, the best ones are so much more than just the male lead. For me, the most memorable ones are not just the heroes, they are completely heroic – in action, in deed, and in words.

The entry for hero in the online resource, Wikipedia,is:

“From the Greek ἣρως (demi-god), in mythology and folklore, a hero (male) or heroine (female) are characters that in the face of danger and adversity, from a position of weakness display courage and the will for self-sacrifice, that is, heroism, for some greater good, originally of martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence.

In literature, particularly in tragedy, the hero may also have serious flaws which lead to their downfall, e.g. Hamlet. Such heroes are often called tragic heroes.

Stories of heroism may serve as moral examples, impressing a culture’s ethical code, especially for the young. In classical antiquity, hero cults, veneration of deified or semi-deified heroes such as Heracles, Perseus, or Achilles, played an important role in Ancient Greek religion. Later emperors employed hero worship for their own apotheosis, that is, cult of personality. Though this Roman usage retained religious significance, it may have been the first use of “hero” in the modern, more generalised sense – much like “idol” – of simply referring to a celebrity.”

In one of her many helpful and informative sessions, Suzanne Brockmann has talked about how she creates her heroes, and, to loosely paraphrase (apologies to Suz if I don’t have it quite right), she says, ‘You take a solid character and take the most important thing away from him. Then when he tries to get back on steady ground, you pull the rug out from under him. And when he tries to get back up, you beat him while he’s down.’

It’s when the best of men are faced with tragic loss or seemingly unbeatable adversity that we get to see just how heroic they are by the actions they take and choices they make.

I get chills just thinking about such a hero! If you have a hero that falls in that category – whether in fiction or real life – please share. I would love to read about him!

-Jessica

Sexy is as Sexy Does

July 13, 2007 at 9:06 pm | Posted in Bria, character, creativity, hero, life, relationships, romance, writing | 2 Comments

Hot – Fine – Good Looking – Cute – Handsome – Attractive – Luscious  

Justin Timberlake has been trying to do it all year – he’s trying to bring sexy back.  But can someone answer me this: What does that mean? 

As a writer, I take a stab at creating heroes women find attractive (don’t we all) – but there’s a fundamental problem with that.  Everyone finds different things attractive. 

I often joke around (I know you’re shocked) by saying things like “Every girl deserves at least one hot, dumb jock.”  I’ve had mine, and you know what? You can keep him. 

He was completely gorgeous.  Women would slip him their phone number while he was holding my hand. Agents (real ones, we checked) would approach him about modeling. Eyes followed him wherever he went. He had that something that went beyond the absurd good looks. 

When I met him, it didn’t cross my mind to be interested. He was just too good looking. Maybe that was it, maybe I was the challenge. Flowers in my car, candy in my coat pocket, cd’s in my player.  He pulled out every get-the-girl trick known to man. He was thoughtful and wanted to be around me all the time. He liked to show me off to his friends à look how funny/smart she is. 

He was also was needy, manipulative, self-absorbed, shallow and secretly insecure. 

Not to mention my last Hot Guy.   

Now, older and wiser, I find myself attracted to a different type of man. OK, the OC was a horrible show and lasted longer than it should have, but it’s perfect here: think Seth instead of Ryan. But could you make him stronger and add a dash of danger. Oh! Brood a little. Maybe have some deep dark secret that only I can heal for him. . .  

Ok, so maybe it isn’t all that cut and dry. So how do we transfer all of this into a hero that will speak to different woman? 

There are things all women are attracted to: Strength of mind, character, spirit, body. He must have the nugget of goodness in him somewhere . Devoted to the heroine. 

All About Romance did a poll in 2006 of the top 10 Heroes (as well as Heroines and Couples) and the one thing that came clear to me is that women like a strong man who stands by his principles (whatever they might be) and is devoted to the heroine. 

So, I’m dying to know – WHAT ARE YOU ATTRACTED TO? 

-bria heartlette    

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