Saturday, December 19, 2015

Character Traits for a Compelling Hero and Heroine

Knowing that this month was coming when I share my favorite heroes and heroines with you, a while back, I asked my Facebook friends what traits they liked to see in the heroes and heroines in the romances they read. 

I received dozens of replies. While there may not be any surprises here, I was interested to see what traits were mentioned repeatedly and most often.

But first, let me tell you what I like to see as a reader:

In a hero: a leader of men, a warrior tested by adversity who has looked into the face of fear and moved forward; a strong enough character to handle a strong woman and want her for his own; a compassionate heart he shows to few.

In a heroine: a woman who has the courage to defend others, to face the darkness when no one else will. With age, she gains wisdom and humility, putting the needs of others above her own. Intelligent and resourceful. Adventurous.

And now your lists in descending order of the times the quality was mentioned (that is, most often mentioned are at the top):

For Heroes:

Integrity & honor
Intelligent, wise, witty
Sense of humor
An Alpha: sexy, brooding and dangerous (sometimes also mentioned: with a heart of gold and kind to children and animals)
Respects and honors women; will fight for them
Tall, broad shoulders

And mentioned only a single time:

Has flaws he is aware of; honorable in all things save one
Has a horse
Loves family
Has a unique quality that makes him stand out from others.
Can be hard or stubborn

For Heroines:

Intelligent/Sharp wit
Compassionate, shows empathy, kind
Courageous, a peacekeeper most days, but a warrior when needed
Sense of humor
A unique attribute, activity, hobby, talent or quirk
A little mystery, a secretive past, or a scandal she's hiding from.
Wears glasses, or has a limp or has been mistreated in some way by family
Confident with a driving passion
No whiners

And mentioned only once:

Passionate about something
Strong sense of self
Can ride a horse astride, no side saddle
Flaws but in moderation. Stubborn is ok but not obstinate...
She must be deeply involved in an interesting situation with a lot at stake
Knows what is or has gone on not just heard and wants to help

Note that in a hero, most of those replying wanted him to be loyal, a man of honor, strong and intelligent. Handsome might be assumed but it did come farther down the list. For a heroine, the top qualities you wanted to see were that she be intelligent, strong, compassionate and courageous. Again, beautiful might have been assumed but one who responded thought to mention it. And more than one said “no whiners”.

Tell me if we missed one that is important to you… and feel free to list negatives you don’t like to see as well! Authors (including me!) are listening and taking notes!

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