What I'm reading: Buried Prey, by John Sandford
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Today's post is targeted at readers more than writers, although I don't think you can really isolate one from the other. I'd appreciate feedback from both sides.
Recently, I've read a few "straight" romance novels by best-selling, many, many books to their name authors. Maybe the reason they didn't resonate for me is because I usually read either straight mystery or romantic suspense, but I had some trouble caring about the characters—in these cases, the hero. And I wondered if I'm the only one.
We all know that writing a "TSTL" character (Too Stupid to Live) is a story killer. And, I'm assuming that even though that caveat usually comes with descriptions of heroines, I'm thinking it should also carry over to the hero. Men can be stupid, too.
But what about the character who's too good to be true? Again, this taboo seems to be something reserved for heroines. The heroine who's gorgeous, can sing, dance, is a crack shot and an expert at martial arts is scorned upon. But what about the hero?
In the books I've read that triggered this post, the heroes are handsome beyond belief, and good at their jobs. Good at their jobs isn't a bad thing. They should be at least competent in their fields. As for looks, I can accept the uber-handsome hero, although I prefer to write my heroes a shade under drop-dead gorgeous. My one exception was Blake in Nowhere to Hide, because his character originated with Duncan MacLeod in the Highlander television series, and he was drop dead gorgeous. Heck, if he hadn't been, maybe I'd never have started writing. But I digress.
These heroes in question are not only gorgeous, but they don't seem to have any character flaws. They tolerate anything the heroine does. Their primary goal seems to be to wait for the heroine to realize she loves him. They're patient beyond belief. They don't lose their tempers unless they're protecting the heroine from someone causing trouble. They don't seem to make any mistakes at all. The heroine can have relationship issues up the wazoo, but the hero simply smiles and waits.
Is it because as female readers, we're secretly looking for that Mr. Perfect? I know I prefer a hero with some kind of flaws, and that's how I write them. But these "perfect-hero" authors aren't hurting for readers, and they've got enough books written to fill several bookcases. What's your take?
Tomorrow, my guest is author Paty Jager who's writing about recyling books--and not as landfill. Come read about it.