by Catherine Mann and Joanne Rock
Romance authors strive to create the ultimate hero with every story, a tall order when so many fabulous men have already captured the hearts of readers. Shelves are packed with to-die-for heroes, from Suzanne Brockmann’s SEALS to Nora Roberts’ MacGregors.
One archetype we notice again and again in romance is the quintessential Bad Boy— a hero who might be tall, dark and dangerous, or maybe a rogue in need of reform. Perhaps this man is so popular because he presents such an enticing challenge. The more of an obstacle the hero provides, the more triumphant our heroine feels when she wins his heart. So how do we go about creating that ultimate, spine-tingling hero to capture a reader’s heart?
The Bad Boy hero can take many forms. Corporate shark. Cop. Scientist. Fireman. Surfer turned millionaire businessman. We all have our ideal of the “perfect guy,” and what attracts us differs for everyone. Part of the Harlequin/Silhouette marketing strategy depends on tapping into those individual inclinations by delivering a certain kind of book for each line, based on reader preferences. That includes the type of hero.
The first step to writing a compelling hero in category romance is to do your research. Read, read, read the line you’re targeting. Does the line look for a bad boy who’s edgy and larger than life? Or a hero who curbs his bad-boy ways to an occasional wicked gleam in his eye? When we first decided to target Harlequin/Silhouette, we began by reading hundreds, yes hundreds, of category romances.
The following chart is a model to help analyze your target line and identify trends. (Remember, exceptions can be found to every example!) While reading your books in the line you are researching, note the following facets of the heroes you meet:
A sexy hero can transform your book from merely a good story to a memorable keeper-shelf read. To write a studly sensation, you’ll also want to keep in mind these principles of good characterization that can be applied to all romance heroes. Here are some basics to use as a springboard for launching the creation of your very own hot hero with a healthy dose of sizzle.
With a little careful analysis and characterization layering, you can create a hero that fits your line’s parameters, yet simultaneously stretches the boundaries. A memorable romance has at its heart an unforgettable hero and that man deserves the best start in his fictional life that you can give him. Remember to make him heroic and strong, flawed but filled with potential, universal and at the same time, unique.
A tall order? You betcha. But we are, after all, talking about heroes here, and there’s nothing that a sexy bad boy can’t handle.
Find bad boys to win your heart in Catherine Mann’s “Wingmen Warriors” series. Learn more about Catherine’s work at catherinemann.com.
Joanne Rock writes sexy bad boys for Harlequin Temptation and Blaze. Meet Greg in REVEALED (Temptation 3/03), don’t miss Jesse in WILD & WICKED (Blaze 5/03) and find more hot heroes in her “Single in the South Beach” series.