I have a confession: I still watch Disney movies.
As a blonde, I tend to gravitate towards other blonde heroines in order to find a physical similarity of which I can relate.
But I'm not drawn towards the blonde Disney Princesses (Rapunzel doesn't count because SPOILER ALERT she was originally a brunette. I was not happy with that surprise.) Anyways, I digress. The reason I'm not drawn to Cinderella or Aurora or Snow White (besides the fact that she has raven-colored hair) is because, quite frankly, their princes are kind of lame. And if a girl falls for a lame prince, then her whole character is suspect.
Belle and Pochanhontas and Jasmine and Mulan (I know, I know, she's technically not a princess. But I've met her more times at Disneyland's Princess Parade than Pochahontas. In fact, I still haven't met Pochahontas, and I frequent Disneyland pretty often!) have great male opposites because while they're imperfect, they're likeable.
(I know that Ariel has been left off the list and I'll tell you why: while I adore her character and while I admit Eric is very nice to look at, he's clueless. Oh, and I'm not looking at princesses after Mulan.)
Aladdin is a "street rat." There's no way he can ever give Jasmine the life she's use to. But he fights for her, first by lying to her and claiming to be a prince and then literally, against Jafar.
John Smith is ambitious. He likes adventure and exploring and immersing himself into new things. That curiosity eventually gets him in trouble, subsequently forcing him back home, parting himself from Pochahontas forever. (I know that the second movie and real life differ, but I don't care. I'm in denial.)
Shang is prideful but fair, an excellent military man. He's disciplined and cautious, strict and blunt. But he believes in Mulan, even when the safest bet is to go against her, a woman.
Beast has a temper. He yells and throws things and he's arrogant and selfish. But he learns. He saves Belle's life and lets her father go, wanting her happiness before his own.
Obviously these men aren't perfect. But that's what makes them real and interesting and men we girls would fall in love with.
That's the secret with writing heroes. Make them men you'd want to fall in love with (or want to be friends with). You know when you first start dating a guy and he has this annoying habit that you find endearing? That's an imperfection. Everyone has them, and sometimes (let's face it - most of the time) those are imperfections we fall in love with.
Perfect guys are boring. Lame. They have nothing to learn, which makes them stagnant.
Make them real because ultimately it's the real guys we fall in love with.