Last week, I added a parenthetical remark to my list of things a heroine should do. That aside sparked the idea for this post. I’m limiting myself to ten randomly chosen ideas (broken into two weeks–my words go on and on!), but there are probably a million more. Please add yours in the comments.
Five things your hero should never do because he cares (in no particular order)
1. Beat her. I would have believed this self-explanatory as well as perhaps negated by the-hero-is-flawed-but-always-acts-heroically rule. I was wrong. Sophia Martin (Twitter, Site) shared a story she remembered in which “the hero BEAT the heroine for a transgression AND SHE FORGAVE HIM.” Then, she (the heroine) found herself charmed by a promise to beat their children and send them to her for comfort.
Heroes never assault women. Any women, but especially the heroine.
2. Cheat on her. Nothing says, “I couldn’t care less about your feelings,” like cheating. I’m not talking glittery hoo-ha here. There’s a line where the couple starts the you’re-my-potential-mate dance. Heroes don’t step outside that line.
I might, and that’s a doubtful might, forgive a hero who cheated in the past. But a hero, in the story of loving the heroine, who has sex with someone else after they’ve kissed, declared their intentions, or become intimate? No. Just no.
3. Dump her because he has trust issues. And is a stupid ass-hat. This, and the one above, were shared by Carinae L’etoile (Twitter, Site). She read a book where the heroine has a twin. That she doesn’t know about. Who stars in porn. See the big misunderstanding coming?
Hero sees new, unknown twin in porn (how did he explain that?) and, according to Carinae, “viciously kicks the heroine to the curb.”
What?? So, heroes with trust issues? That’s fine, if it’s fear of the future or of being hurt. The fear that his heroine is a big whore? That’s abusive, not heroic.
4. Manipulate her. I’ve read lots of books where the hero or heroine try to make the other jealous. And I’ve enjoyed them despite the fact that this is a form of emotional manipulation.
In real life, as it should be in romance writing, it’s never okay to act in a non-genuine way to force an emotional response.
All I can say is that there’s a line. As a subplot, intended as a comedy, or maybe even as a flaw the character arcs from, you can pull it off. But, be aware, that’s a fine line. Go over it, and he becomes an emotionally abusive asshole.
5, Dismiss her. Does he misjudge her at the beginning? Fine. He doesn’t even know her and maybe he has really valid reasons to dislike her.
But once he beings to care for her, once she shows vulnerability, then don’t treat her like she’s not smart, or capable, or enough.
Do you know how many women have felt this way? Pretty much all of us. I know I don’t want to identify with a heroine because the future/current love of her life makes her feel that way. That drives me right into wallbanger territory.
Disclaimer: I’m sure these have all been done. Some of them even successfully. I’m not criticizing anyone or calling anybody out. It’s just… my blog, my opinion. But, I’d love to hear yours! Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
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- Next: Romance Writing Don’ts– The Black Moment is a Restraining Order, Part 2
- Related: Show Me More Love: Writing Heroines
- Related: Show Me the Love: Writing Heroes
- Related: What is love in Romance