Ask a male author about your male character traits or thoughts.

Amazon links to my stories: Autumn Breeze, A More Perfect Union, Double Happiness, The Wolves of Sherwood Forest, Neanderthals and the Garden of Eden can be found down the right side of the blog.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Having a Zealot Overstay His Welcome

If a romantic hero is a zealot, his flaw may be truly fatal.

What is a zealot? A person who is always right in his own mind. On top of that cannot tolerate diverse opinions. He thinks lowly of those who he suspects has the wrong opinion (in the case of terrorists, would rather see them dead). I say “suspects” because many shy away from discourse with zealots, but he knows they’re wrong anyway.

Writing a zealot as a hero in romance—proud of the arc created—is asking for less audience. Readers have been confronted by zealots and they don’t like them. Even zealots don’t like those who inflexibly stand against them. The hero would make any reader uncomfortable. In other words, it is too much to expect the reader to develope empathy for or identify with the hero.

Zealots who might read the story would be saddened if the hero started to change. They’ll put the book down and go out looking for somebody to beat-up mentally or physically (or just call a name).

Zealots often use verbal abuse (bullying) or if literate or trained may engage in conversation in which their target is forced logically (as they see it) to agree with them.

The last zealot I had to deal with disliked the Catholic faith. I like him all right, anyway. An otherwise good man, if misguided. Due to my—nearly a priest—education, I saw all the sophistry or weaknesses in his sideways questioning of how devout a Catholic I was. I answered easily with humor. We continued to play ping-pong. However, I really wanted to focus on the game!

Would a reader put down a book and declare he needs to see the dentist.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Be Willing To Serve

Many times a hero and heroine are embroiled in making a decision of which is more important, a career or their relationship. This is often a necessary ingredient to a good story.

However, advancing a career is an integral part of not only their ability to put food on the table but their willingness to serve, to give back. Hopefully, the hero or heroine take this same approach to how they love each other.

It need not be preachy. It does, IMO (and many others), need to be part of the charm that helps sell your characters to the readers.

In the Hallmark premier of Date With Love, 2016, the heroine, a movie star, worries that her new boyfriend is using her to advance his career (he writes). He worries that she is just acting to advance her career or have a little fun.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The "I Wish" Song

It is common and important in movie and play musicals to start with the I Wish song by the protagonist.

The hero or heroine doesn’t have to know how they’ll achieve it and all the better.

Eliza Doolittle wishes for a warm room away from the cold streets.

The Little Mermaid wishes to be with humans.

Quasimodo wishes he could be with instead of high up over the people, to share their stories and lives.

Dorothy wises to be somewhere over the rainbow.

Writing prose need not resort to song or poetry, although it has been done (The Jungle Book and help me here with other examples).

However, some statement of goal (even if it changes) is valuable to writing good prose.

In all cases, the audience/readers can begin to empathize with the protagonist and invest in the story. Empathy up front can be delivered with an inciting incident, a come-to-Jesus request from a friend, an awakening. It can be subtle or blunt. The one thing it shouldn’t be is misleading, unless there are clues for the audience/readers that the protagonist has a little growing up to do and will face an unexpected outcome. Then we cheer for a different reason. Rick pretends not to be interested in the war or any dame but will soon be asked to choose between a woman and the fight for freedom. We all know he’ll change.

In Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips a star quarterback who has all the gorgeous women he’d ever need or want, slams on the brakes of his Aston Martin Vanquish to pull in front of a girl in a beaver suit in the middle of nowhere (all this in the first paragraph). The reader interprets this as his unknowing wish for change and commitment. The story never varies from his unknowing quest until he knows.

Here’s the great Judy Garland singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow, 1939. What does Dorothy really want?

Sunday, May 8, 2016

When is it okay to weep for the guy who doesn't get the gal?

We were watching a Hallmark romance movie and my wife said, “I don’t know who she’ll pick.”

I said, “probably the guy with no visible source of income, but let’s see.”

I was tickled by her remark. My gal reads a ton of romance novels, but she’s not a writer. I knew the who, what, where, when, why, how and throw in some tropes, 10 minutes into the 2 hour (well, maybe 1.5 hours after commercials) movie. The credit for my wife's confusion of who gets the gal, goes to the writer of the screenplay. It used to be and still is in some plots that the guy who will not get the gal, has a really fatal flaw.

Basically, one guy’s a doctor. The other, a struggling and not google-able writer of unspecified fiction (romance*). Both have caring hearts, love her, good senses of humor. Both are handsome. One seems well off; the other not at all.  *The heroine doesn’t read romance, thinks it’s fluff. He writes under and travels with his pen name and persona, a woman, Veronica something (can you ID the tropes here?). His fiction earns awards and nationwide bestseller status (like the ladies of RWASD) and when the heroine finally gets her hands on an example, thanks to her girlfriend— “just read this, maybe you’ll change your mind about some romance”—she loves the tender story.

Tickled? Yes, because I think the longer you can hold the suspense of who-gets-who, the happier and more entertained the reader will be. That’s if you play with a two-guy theme. BTW, Hallmark is doing more and more experimental movies and is trying to hide the obvious happily-ever-after in layers upon layers of conflict and misdirection. But, they can’t fool us, right?

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Morning Has Broken

I’m sitting in Mass this morning listening to the opening song, Morning Has Broken, originally by Cat Stevens.

What kind of man appreciates the beauty of nature, reverence for life, the symbiosis of organisms and inanimate entities (like the Earth, Moon and stars) and his ties to it?

Consider an Alpha.

An Alpha or any other kind of hero can be this sensitive. One wouldn’t expect a Navy Seal or an NCS (CIA) assassin to have this type of appreciation or fervor and perhaps most don't. This is exactly why a writer would be wise to consider adding charm, or using apparent contradictions to create a memorable and identifiable character. In short, paint your Alpha with nuance and complexity and your readers will remember you (and the character).

Morning Has Broken, by Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam), 1976.