We’ve all heard about the Too Stupid to Live heroine.
You know the one I’m talking about. The foot-stamping, thirty-something contemporary heroine who has no excuse to behave this way except that she’s always exhibited this behavior to get what she wants—and she never changes. Her character never sees the light and somewhere near the end of the book, the hero gives a knowing nod or some signal that basically conveys his acceptance of the situation because he wants her. My question is—why?
I ask the same question of a heroine who accepts being treated abominably through the entire book by a hero that doesn’t give any indication he sees a reason to change. There is a danger when writing a hero of making them over-the-top alpha's and so disagreeable that the reader will wonder what kind of “happily ever after” these people are actually going to get. And although it doesn’t speak well of the heroine for accepting or excusing his behavior, presumably for the same reason as above—because she wants him, I tend to lose respect for them both.
No, I’m not anti-alpha hero. I love them as characters and there’s an alpha male on practically every book cover on my shelves and in my e-reader. What can I say; I’m a sucker for a ruggedly handsome face and a muscular bare chest. Throw in a five o’clock shadow and some dark eyes and you’ll get me to the blurb and probably whatever excerpt is available. All of this may get me to buy the book but a TSTL hero/heroine between its covers will get said book deleted or thrown into the donation pile quicker than you can say, “five o’clock shadow”.
A very smart critique partner once told me that as long as my character’s actions were believably motivated the reader would sympathize and even identify with that character. If I had an alpha who was stoic and brusque, I’d better show him casting longing gazes at the heroine and give him a background that explained his churlish behavior (I was writing historical romance at the time). Then I’d better show him struggling to change/grow. In other words, I could make the hero as rough as I wanted, but if I didn’t show his vulnerability and connect it to why he behaved the way he did, the reader wouldn’t believe his actions when he finally revealed his true feelings for the heroine.
How about you? What do you think would make a hero TSTL?
Until next month,
Cross My Heart-NOR Top Pick
Head Over Heels-2nd Place –Passionate Plume-Novella
Assassin’s Kiss—4 Stars Romantic Times Review