Wednesday, October 15, 2008

All About Heroes

Last week at the Grip, they were talking about heroes – alpha, beta, omega – whatever your pleasure. The concentration was on abstract flaws as part of their character while assuming physical perfection. Even Disney™ does it, and the women in Disney’s “The Princess Diaries 2) agreed that a flawless male – physically and in character was wanted.

But what I am noticing in romance, at least, is a lack of the physically flawed hero. There are more and more stories/books being written where the hero is a military vet (usually Army or Marines) who served in Iraq or Afghanistan as the war stretches into it’s 8th year and more and more people are serving over there. Some repeatedly.

While Billy Ray Cyrus’ song “Some Gave All” is apt, and accurate, we as writers want to acknowledge the service and sacrifice without delving to deep or losing the romantic essence of our books, so we have a tendency to stay away from the physically flawed hero. We understand the demons that even those who return physically unscathed must carry and deal with can be monumental, adding a physical complication and that set of demons would further complicate the matter, pushing our characters into unknown waters and setting up a possible failure in a complicated relationship.

I’m wondering why shy away from the physically imperfect hero. Is it because our heroine can’t handle it, or because we can’t?

A good portion of that answer we must shoulder ourselves – it’s scary and sad and potentially terrifying to look away from the safety of the world we know to the one they have dwelled in. But, at the same time, we can not ask a soldier to reveal and relive their time giving such details about their feelings for the good of a story. The qualities we love in our heroes are the same ones that can prevent them from seeking the help needed. PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – can show itself in many varied and lasting forms, which could be another deterrent.

So while writing about the characters with fixable flaws or smaller ones that can be overlooked or accepted is infinitely easier, maybe we should reconsider our stance on physically perfect. The physically imperfect hero wants to be loved and accepted just as much as the physically perfect.

No comments: