Archive for October, 2010
In the wake of a spate of tragic suicides by young gays, this campaign started by writer Dan Savage warms my heart. I hope it succeeds in reach GBLT teens out there who are considering suicide and helps them go on in the knowledge that the cruelty they experience is not their fault, and that they are not unlovable freaks. I’ve watched a bunch of these messages and find them so incredibly heartening.
I was really thrilled to see this message from Sarah Frantz (reader, scholar and reviewer of romance, academic, mother, wife, former soldier). I am not a member of the GBLT community, and I don’t write for it. But as a writer of romance, I understand its powerful message. I was cheering for Sarah as she championed the value of romance, whether the couple be heterosexual or homosexual. Check it out.
I love me an ambiguous hero. If he starts out heroic and ends up heroic, where’s the fun in that? I like characters with a certain degree of darkness and moral complexity. Heck, make him dangerous, debauched, menacing. Because in a romance, I know there’s going to be a happily-ever-after, and I know I’m in for a hell of a ride as the hero is transformed into someone I can call heroic. Anne Stuart does this better than anyone else, in my opinion.
Why is she so successful at it? I think because she doesn’t let you see too much of her hero’s innate capacity for goodness – that tiny, buried kernel – too soon. She keeps you on the knife edge of indecision about his true character, right along with the heroine. She masterfully dispenses dribs and drabs of backstory in a way that allows us to only gradually appreciate how he came to be who he is. We have a front row seat as Stuart puts our guy through tests and trials, giving him plenty of opportunities to fail. But when the chips are down and he mans up and does the heroic thing, we’re cheering like crazy for him (and yes, probably crying). We know that our heroine’s leap of faith was rewarded, because when he’s tested, he proves himself to be a hero. In the words of screenwriting guru Robert McKee, “True CHARACTER is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure – the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature.”
Not that I always require quite that much ambiguity in a character. I’ve read and loved plenty of books where the hero isn’t necessarily mad, bad and dangerous to know. Heck, I’ve written them! But when I’m reading back cover copy, it’s definitely an element that revs my engines.
What about you? What’s your favorite kind of character to read?