I read an interesting blog on romance novel heroes recently. It was slightly informative, but mainly encouraged writers to capture the essence of the main male character right off the bat. To make him a hero, having his moral compass shine through, and him live by it no matter the cost.
The code, of the west, or any point you wish to name, for that matter. It went on to give a few examples of what characteristics the male hero would embody, honesty, right and wrong, not swaying from his beliefs; even to the point of losing the woman, and it made me wonder about one of my book's heroes, or I should say antiheroes.
I have a menage that I'm retooling. It didn't sell well and so I've pulled it and revamping it. The story is about thieves. So right away, I don't have a hero.
The main male characters abduct the female lead for debts owed to them. They live outside the law, making their own rules. But, as the story unfolds we see their brand of morals coming through. Abducting a woman is seriously testing the limits they've set for themselves. And then those boundaries are constantly pushed when they are immediately attracted to one another (deciding to forego the debt altogether among other things).
Society calls them criminals, and rightly so. However, even if they never broke the law, upstanding citizens would label them as rebels, rogues, outcasts. Men whose moral characters are intact, but people seldom see because they refuse to look past their outward appearance.
And isn't it interesting that we use the term dark romance describing a book that has questionable character values. And furthermore, these types of books are so popular right now.
The antiheroes live on the edge, both men and women, bending the rules with their own brand of morality.
Yet, we give these characters traits of right and wrong, honesty, standing up for what they believe in, etc., but those values extend only toward the other main character. And that is after the antihero uses his special skills to break the heroine. And when that doesn't happen, he finally comes to terms of feelings for the other person.
Antiheroes are much more complex, and interesting than the hero. I like them both, but to push myself, writing the antihero is so much more satisfying (after all the agony I go through to get the character right).
I am reminded of several authors who write the antihero so well. Kitty Thomas' Comfort Food, Pepper Winters' Tears of Tess (Q), are just a few of the authors I enjoy. But that doesn't mean there aren't more, and who also write the antihero so well.
My point? Hero or antihero, whichever becomes the main character, we fiction writers imbue them with much of the same qualities, but within extremely different circumstances and situations.