There are many Super-Authors among us who have received a RITA award presented by the Romance Writers of America (RWA) for an outstanding novel or novella. What is the secret that takes a romance writer and turns her into a Super-Author? What triggered her Aha! moment, so that from that second on, she knew her writing would never be the same? How did she become a phenom who wrote stories that won prestigious awards and accumulated thousands of lifelong fans? Not just fans, but Super-Fans? It’s because they not only love her unique and exciting heroine—they go crazy over her authentic, multi-dimensional, here it comes, hero.
I Need a Hero
To write a dynamic lead male character you must develop him as fully as your female lead or readers will not buy your books. Period. When you are determined to write an awesome story with full-circle male leads possessing depth, emotion, and colorful personalities, you must put in the nitty-gritty leg work.
Super-Authors the world over have a secret to creating these heroes. I will reveal the V-8 smack-on-the-forehead secret, but first, a question: have you read John Gray, Ph.D.’s, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus? If so, I see the possibility of an award in your future. Why? Because of the incredible information you will become privy to as you read this insightful book. You will create men who appear as flesh and blood characters with personality and depth, men and women your readers can relate to as they peel away the layers of these so-called paper-conceived, “Actors of Prose.” I nodded in agreement so much while reading Dr. Gray’s insightful observations, I gave myself a bobble headache.
The How-To of Creating a Dynamic Hero
Are You Ready to Enter Super-Authordom?
Are You Sitting?
Then, Get Off Your Duff!
Stop reading how-to-books and grab a notebook and pen/pencil, wave good-bye to your cushy
recliner and lap desk, snicky-snacks and social media, and do some old-fashioned hit the pavement research.
If a RITA is destined for a place of honor on your mantle, and you’ve been a Hero-Slacker, you must research flesh and blood men. Sure, the above mentioned book is mega helpful in understanding the similarities and differences between the sexes, but you are an author headed to Super-Author status. It is not that men have just a few ways that differ from women in the communication realm: they possess an entire arsenal of “Mars” language. To figure out this man-code, you need to watch them in action.
Become Super-Sleuth to compare and contrast facial expressions, body language, manners, carriage, habits, peculiarities at public places like a bowling alley, cafeteria, a local pub, the men’s clothing section in a department store. What about an electronics emporium with all the brand new gadgets, a long line at a coffee shop? Jot down any snippets of overheard conversation. Okay, the male conversation thingy was a stretch, kind of like finding a 24-carat gold shamrock in a box of Lucky Charms. Good luck with that. Dig deep and research what annoys these random guys, or your guy. How do these men cope in difficult situations, stressful times, or emotional overload? What about personality traits, nervous tic’s, is he a leftie, and does he care? Throw tidbits of witnessed scenarios into your novel and make him so real he jumps off the page and chokes down a bologna sandwich bent over your kitchen sink.
Say No to Cardboard Characters
Never again will you create cardboard character and hopefully you never have. Think about Gone With the Wind. Did Margaret Mitchell write Rhett and Ashley as flat characters or real, live, vivid men who we swore lived and breathed among us? How about Twilight and the characters Edward and Jacob? No, no cardboard there. Real men are the difference between a best-seller and a flop from an author who thought no one would notice. Readers notice.
Villains Must Step It Up, Too
Even villains, the hedonistic psycho-folks teetering between bad-assery and douche-bagery are characters in our books who not always, but a large percentage of the time, have at least one redeeming quality. What would Dorothy be without the Wicked Witch of the West? A girl with killer shoes and a mutt?
You’re the author who hired this villain for your book, make him leap off the page like the rest of the cast.
Creating a genuine male lead (Hero) character with flaws who acts and reacts to the world around him–explained by his backstory and present actions–is a male lead your reader will fall in love with alongside your heroine. She will root for and remember him long after she flips the back cover shut, presses it to her chest, and releases a long sigh because her Super-Author’s amazing Happily Ever After (HEA) story came to a fulfilling end. Because you made this story and all the characters real, she believes they exist somewhere in her world. One more thing she knows for certain; She will be your Super-Fan for life.
Tammy Lough is an award-winning author who loves writing romance and creating unique characters who burst with personality and frequent sprinklings of humor. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Missouri Romance Writers of America, the Missouri Writers Guild, and Saturday Writers where she pens the monthly column, “On the Back Page With Tammy”. You can connect with Tammy on her website www.TammyLough.com.