Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rumpelstiltskin and how to write a good hero

Two confessions: Number 1, I am currently reading a YA novel - which shall remain nameless - that annoys me, but not to the point where I can put it down and Number 2) I am obsessed with the ABC show Once Upon A Time, more specifically, Rumpelstiltskin.

So what do these two things have in common?

Well, the reason this book annoys me is because of two things: I hate one of the love interests (yes, as usual, there's a love triangle) and the heroine, which we'll call C, is lusting after her two interests in the same way.  Like, whenever they touch her, her body reacts in the same way.  The author tries to differentiate it, but I'm sorry.  It doesn't work.  The reactions aren't the same.

To me, this strikes me as impossible.  If you're falling for two different guys, your feelings and reactions for and to them will be different.  The way Johnny Depp makes me feel is way different than the way Robert Downey, Jr. makes me feel.  My body reacts differently.  The way they make me happy is different.  I'm attracted to different things about them.  Why?  Because they're two different people.

The way C feels about her two boys is the same.  Why?  Because essentially, the author writes the same character.  Both guys are hot, they're jealous, they make C feel hot.  What else?  Um, nothing really, because their characters aren't fully fleshed out.

As a reader, I'm supposed to sympathize with C.  But how can I, when her body gets all hot and bothered around these two guys?  I get that sex is on her mind.  I used to be a teenager.  I get it.  But I need more than hotness in a guy, and I need it even more in a character I'm supposed to fall for.  Because C equates these feelings with love, it makes me lose respect for her and I don't care what happens to her.

And regarding the first point?  I hate her Love Option 1.  He's jealous, selfish, and pushy.  He doesn't care that their love is forbidden and that she could get into deep trouble - possibly die - because of it.  He pushes her for information about her past when, quite frankly, it's none of his business.  And because C likes the guy, I dislike C.

So where does Rumpelstiltskin come in?

He's the perfect hero because he's not a hero.  He's not good looking (to the general population.  I find him delectable myself), he's manipulative, and he doesn't care about anyone but himself.  There's something creepy about him.  And yet, whenever I see him, my body responds to him.  Without giving you too much information, I'm drawn to the character way more than Prince Charming/David, or Graham/The Huntsman.

A hero is more than just eye candy.  He has to be, especially in books since we can't physically see him.  He has to have individual traits, flaws, and something that makes him unique.  He needs to be his own character.

I'm incredibly bias because I really like mysterious, brooding characters.  There's just something about them that attracts me.  Who cares if they're selfish when they have no problem owning up to it, and are probably even proud of it?  Who cares if they're not the best looking person out there?  That makes them way more interesting.  A bad thing to do when attempting to write a decent love-triangle is to make it lopsided, where every reader roots for the same guy.  The worst thing you can do is write a love triangle where the reader doesn't even care who the heroine ends up with because you don't care about her and her potential mates.

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