“I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.”
~ Bob Dylan
What makes a hero in a story? Is it a strong and disciplined body? The way he moves across a room and commands attention or that roguish glint in his eye? Initially those are the things that will catch a reader’s attention. But, if that is all your hero has going for him then your reader won’t stay long.
When I began Rayven’s Keep I wasn’t sure what my hero eventually would be like. I had a basic idea, but it took time to make Nick Rayven more than one-dimensional. I had to ask myself what traits did he posses that would make my heroine fall in love with him. What was it that made him a hero in her eyes?
To know that I had to understand where he came from, what experiences molded him into the man he was now. Right away, I knew he was an honorable man, driven by duty and his own moral compass. I knew he could be impatient and once set on a course he would see it to the end no matter what. He’s a man who has seen the worst life has to offer and still managed to survive.
In other words, he’s one tough dude.
That might be attractive at the on-set, but my heroine is feisty and a romantic at heart. There had to be more to Nick’s than a tough exterior to keep her interested and willing to break down the emotional barriers he’s erected. After all, this is her journey as much as his.
So how does a man who spent his life in the military fighting for a cause he believes in deal with the destruction of everything he’s fought for? How does he move past seeing his home world destroyed? For Nick those final horrendous minutes of battle are relived in nightmares. This is a vulnerability he hates and has no control over. Yet, in spite of everything, he has managed to build a new life for himself by being focused on establishing his business, Rayven Security. It’s how he copes.
He’s also lived in an emotional vacuum for so long he doesn’t quite know how to deal with one small female getting under his skin and shaking up his world. It’s his gruff kindness, his protective instincts and the vulnerability she senses in him that draw her. It’s the heat she see’s in his eyes and the baffled expression he can’t quite hide. Its knowing he will walk through fire for her and recognizing it goes beyond his sense of duty. That’s the Nick she fights for. Wouldn’t you?
This is one of my favorite scenes with Nick. What do you think?
Nick was no stranger to the tumult of feelings coursing through his body. He’d felt the punch-drunk assault of adrenaline many times in his career. He understood the heady rush of euphoria once the danger had passed and knew firsthand the reckless need for physical release in its aftermath. He recognized it a very human response to the need to reaffirm life continued.
All those feelings and needs made his hands shake and drawing breath into his oxygen-starved lungs difficult. He wanted to follow Tru to her bed and sink into her warmth with a painful intensity leaving his muscles taut and his emotions a tangled mess.
If the situation were different, he would have gone with his friends to a tavern and indulged in the usual male bonding ritual of congratulatory back-thumping and drinking until he was either too drunk to stand or had found a bed partner. A sobering thought. He’d been younger then, still idealistic and sure of his ability to survive what life threw at him. It seemed like a lifetime ago, and he’d learned surviving was sometimes almost too painful to be endured.
To let her walk away had cost him. The heavy thud of his heartbeat pulsed in his temple and restless energy held muscles rigid. He called himself ten kinds of a fool, even though he knew he did the right thing. He ran a hand across the back of his neck before he went in search of a canister of ale he knew was onboard. He didn’t drink often, but tonight promised to be long and lonely.
After he snagged the chilled canister, he returned to the bridge. Slouching in his chair, he nursed the drink and stared moodily into space.
I like a hero who’s tempered with deep and honest feelings regardless of where those feelings come from. 🙂 I’ve read a lot of excerpts today (preparing for a class I’m teaching in a couple of weeks) and one of them introduced a hero that really threw me. My dislike for this man was immediate. I think some authors feel that in order to create an alpha hero they have to make him a douche, giving him false machismo with a sense of inadequacy. I don’t find douchey guys very heroic. First impressions stick and the book I’m talking about (not yours, of course) would not have been enjoyable for me. Thank goodness for excerpts, yes? Saves our reader-bacon ten times over.
Congrats on your new release and best of luck with your book!
I love how you make your hero enticing, attractive, and real – someone who will draw the heroine to him like a magnet! Well done! ~ Viola
Thanks, Viola! Writing Nick was easy once I got a handle on the type of man he was. It is a balancing act to keep the hero relatable and irresistible to the heroine, isn’t it?
It’s definitely a balancing act, Kylie. One I think you’ve nailed!
I always gravitate towards excerpts so that I can get a feel for the characters before I invest time and money into a book. What works for one person might be a total turn-off for another 😉 I enjoy flawed heroes, but I also want to root for him.
I love a man who says what he means, and means what he says. I don’t care for wishy washy types who need to be micro-managed, or who need to ask for approval. A true hero in my eyes is a man who is kind to animals, old people, different people, and who can handle (in all the ways that matter) a head-strong woman. He’s sweet, demanding, sensual, and a little rough around the edges. He’s not afraid to stand up for what he believes in…in fact, he’s rarely afraid of anything. And that might very well be his downfall. This tenacious male doesn’t know when to let go. That’s my idea of a hero. Did I miss anything?
Wow, I love your description of a hero! I am fanning myself here – whew! I don’t think you missed a thing 🙂
Oddly, we have both disclosed our recipes for making our heroes today. Yours sounds like a far better recipe. My first two bags of ingredients ended up with Ted Bundy. Opps. So I dumped some good stuff in. I fear my ingredients will spoil by book 3 whereas yours just gets better and stronger with time. Speaking of which, I need to eat lunch now, all this talk of ingredients has made me hungry.
Hi Liza! There is room for all kinds of heroes and your Trent in Worst Week Ever is certainly a fascinating guy. Talking about recipes has made me hungry too – hmmm.
Love the excerpt, Kylie. It hits on one of the traits I find most important in a hero — the ability to master his powerful urges. That’s a hero I can respect. I have a hard time getting into a book if I can’t respect the hero.
Hey M.Q.! The more I got to know Nick throughout the story the better I liked him. I totally agree on wanting a hero you can respect.
Hi Kylie, beyond anything I was touched by this excerpt and felt compassion for Nick. Real. That’s what I thought. Well done. xo
Thank you, Cd! It is wonderful to know I hit the right cord with Nick and you enjoyed the excerpt 🙂 I think he will always be one of my favorite characters.
Ah, Nick. Strong arms, a true moral compass, and a deep pool of emotion all rolled into a strong and hardworking man. Throw in a couple of spaceships rocketing through space and a daring woman who’s bitten off more than she can handle and ZOW! Good stuff. 🙂
Now, when is the next one coming out.
Awww, Laurel – now I am blushing. Thank you!
Now, I feel ashamed, since I didn’t make a real hero in my book. Heavy sigh! Well, yours is fabulous.
Of course you have a hero, Liza! Trent is a work in progress and will have a wonderful growth arc through your books. He is a diamond in the rough!
Great excerpt, Kylie! I love heroes who recognize their own weaknesses – and then have the courage to act because of it, which makes them stronger by the end of the story.
Hi Melia! I’m glad you liked the excerpt. Heroes can be tricky to write, but Nick made it pretty easy 🙂