Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Futuristic Romance Heroes

What makes a good futuristic romance hero? In my opinion, the exact same things that make a good romance hero, period. Of course, these are just guidelines and made to be broken.

The hero has a code of honor

It might not match society's idea of honor, but he strives to always live up to his own code.

Since my heroes have all been military or paramilitary, they tend to adhere to the normal social ideal of honor. However, in The Skypirate Justine Davis creates a hero who attacks coalition shipping. This is definitely not considered a good thing by the powers that be, but the coalition is a corrupt entity and by attacking it, the hero feels he's striking a blow for the planets that were overtaken by this imperial power.

We also see a lot of a personal code of honor in vampire books. The hero either only takes enough blood to live on, leaving the donor with a pleasurable interlude or, if he kills his prey, it's always the dregs of society, the kind of bad guys that few readers will feel any remorse over. If the vampire loses his control and accidentally kills an innocent, he's been tortured by this from the day it happened--even if it's been hundreds of years. I can't think of one instance where a vampire hero in a romance has killed someone "undeserving" for regular feeding.

Heroes are protective and reliable

These men might be as alpha as all get out, but they'll die to protect someone they perceive as weaker than they are--even if it's with great reluctance--and the heroine can rely on him to help her no matter what the circumstances.

I've noticed a pattern in my books. No matter what else is going on around them, the hero and heroine are always a team, able to rely on each other one hundred percent. They might not trust each other, in fact, in Through a Crimson Veil, Conor was damn pissed off at Mika for the lies she told, but despite all that, he continued to protect her and Mika knew he'd never let anything happen to her.

Heroes are self-reliant

They don't whine to others, they take care of their own problems.

In Janice Tarantino's The Crystal Prophecy, not only is the hero self-reliant, surviving a situation that felled other lords around him, he also is able to shoulder the burden placed on him by The Widows and take the steps necessary to save their society.

Heroes have an emotional vulnerability

No matter how tough they are, they need love.

I tend to write heroes who are loners, with few connections to others (Eternal Nights is the one exception) and this is part of the emotional vulnerability. We all know these guys need to be loved. The most extreme example in my writing is Conor from Through a Crimson Veil. Through no fault of his own, he was rejected by his mother--she refused to even touch him if she could help it--and to protect himself emotionally, he built a fortress around himself. Then Mika comes along and tells him she loves him--often. He wants to believe, but he doesn't quite dare. In the course of the book, Conor inches forward toward trusting and believing that he really is worthy of love.

The difference between regular heroes and futuristic romance heroes

IMO, the main difference is the futuristic hero can be larger than life beyond what most authors can do with a contemporary hero. Sure, he can be a galactic police officer, but he can also be Prince of Planet X, out to save the galaxy from the evil empire.

But whether he's a futuristic rebel out to topple a corrupt totalitarian government or a contemporary hero who's out to catch a murderer, the reader has to care about the character.

3 comments:

Lynda K. Scott said...

Patti said: No matter what else is going on around them, the hero and heroine are always a team, able to rely on each other one hundred percent. They might not trust each other, in fact, in Through a Crimson Veil, Conor was damn pissed off at Mika for the lies she told, but despite all that, he continued to protect her and Mika knew he'd never let anything happen to her.
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First, I loved Through a Crimson Veil :-) but the above statement is intriguing.

I know it worked but, for those who haven't read the book, how did you go about showing the fact they were a team? That they could rely on each other while not exactly trusting each other?

Patti O'Shea said...

Lynda,

Thank you, I'm glad you liked Crimson Veil! And you really are good at the hard questions. :-) While I was writing the book, I just wrote it. Yeah, I know--not much help. Looking back on it now, I might be able to come up with answers.

First, my hero and heroine are both half demon and half human and scattered throughout the first half of the book, Conor reminds himself that "demons lie." I think the fact that he's aware that she could be lying helps alleviate the fact that she is lying about some things.

Second, the premise in this world is that once a demon gives his word, he'd die before betraying it. It's instinctual in them. Not that demons are goody goody because they'll let the other person think they're making a promise when they aren't and all kinds of other scheme stuff to avoid being accountable. But Conor gave his word to protect Mika, and by this point, they're both aware that she really is in danger. He's looking to get rid of the two demons after her and kick her out of his house, promise fulfilled. Of course, it isn't that easy for poor Conor.

Those are the really easy things I did, but I think there were other, more subtle things going on. Mika's lies come out past the midpoint of the book, after she and Conor were already lovers. He's already begun to trust her to some degree and there is a bond between them whether he likes it or not.

It was easier for Mika. She knew Conor was her mate and that a male demon will die to keep his vishtau mate safe. She also knows that he'll keep his word to protect her no matter what, so she continues trusting in that.

Since you read the book, do you have any thoughts on how I did it? :-)

Lynda K. Scott said...

Patti, I've actually responded twice (both with IE and Firefox) and my answer hasn't shown up either way. I think Blogger is mad at me {g}

Anyway, I'll try one last time.

I think because you started with a point of commonality (their shared heritage) and a healthy dose of physical attraction you laid the groundwork for building trust between Conor and Mika. As you say, Conor had a more difficult time given his background and, for men, I think his trust issues had to be answered in more concrete terms, ie Mika's help against other demons/foes even when he didn't want it.

Let's see if this posts.