Wednesday, July 29, 2015

WHAT ARE HEROES MADE OF? ~ by Juliet Waldron


Peter Sagan

Every romance needs a hero, but how do you define him? Is it just passion, looks and money, or is there more? Given that romances are classically defined by a Happily Ever After, why couldn't a fun and sexy fantasy be enough? Lots of hot romps are available in the book universe and there's nothing wrong with it either.
I'm sort of a nerd, though and I've always wanted complication,  even from imaginary flames. Long ago I read, "While you're wishing for water, you might as well wish for champagne." So why not imagine King Arthur or Sir Lancelot or whoever? He can still be cut from the traditional pattern for the Alpha Male, but my (sigh) hero has got to have something between his ears--and a heart, too.

Now to go off-course in search of an illustration. There is a point (I hope) so try to hang in.

I just spent 3 weeks watching the EPIC bicycle race, The Tour de France. I've been a fan years. Sports heroes are sometimes seen as romantic models. Ideally, they should be not only strong and brave, but honest and honorable, too.  Fans expect it.

Cycling is sometimes called “The Beautiful Sport.” To see a rider descend a narrow, twisting road at 55+ mph, with an astonishing backdrop of a mountain, a fabled river or crumbling 1000 year old castle makes the attribution real. 

Lacets de Montvernier, 17 hairpin turns

In the Tour de France this year, there were champions aplenty, powerful riders and daily feats of endurance, as well as

Alejandro Valverde 
cute, totally fit guys with charisma by the bale.

Alex Dowsett

 but my special hero this year was the race winner, a quiet guy who looks rather like a mantis on a bike. (Wonder what Pixar would make of him?) 

Chris Froome, who won the overall, displayed leadership, fair play, humanity, and poise. After three weeks, although he and his team were subjected to the ugliest behavior I've ever seen from spectators--these riders had morphed in my overheated imagination from your garden variety (supreme!) endurance athletes into King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table, shining with purpose. Team Sky was calm, professional and utterly dedicated to their crazy 2,200 mile mission. 

I'd like my fictional hero to possess those fine qualities too, so I hope to design a complicated guy with more than a touch of Beta.  

Chris Froome and his cat

He can be as beautiful as he likes, but handsome is as handsome does, or so granny taught me; so he should be in a relationship for the long haul. He's madly in love but smart and thoughtful about it. He may have doubts and he sometimes takes a wrong turn, but he never stops thinking and he never stops trying. Like a test pilot, he goes at it until he either flies or augurs in. 
So much man in one glorious package is a big ask. Fortunate that a story requires plotting for growth and change, particularly so because these actors are playing in the upbeat genre called 'romance."  Mr. Right triumphs and Mr. Wrong is overcome—or at least left behind to fester in some fictional Lodi. The heroine, after all, deserves this sexy, brainy paragon and that terrific Happily Ever After.

~~ Juliet Waldron

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