Friday, 7 August 2009

My hero! Why imperfect is perfect

Most people don’t enjoy blemishes. We throw away moldy bread, agonize over pimples, and rub those little smears on the mirror. Why then, do we prefer our heroes with a few defects?

This isn’t a new idea. Jane Austen created one of the most memorable and complicated heroes in 1813 when she penned Pride and Prejudice. Our first few encounters with Fitzwilliam Darcy do not fare well in the opening pages. How could anyone fall for such a rude snob? But in a matter of chapters and exchanges of the heart, it isn’t just Elizabeth Bennet who falls for the gentleman. Readers do, too.

Most of us started out with Prince Charming, while toddling around in our mother’s heels, but by the time reality sank its teeth into our virgin hearts, things were changing. Suddenly there was the “bad boy.” He was the cute but always-in-trouble boy on the playground with the cool tee-shirt and sweaty hair. You know the one; he yanked your ponytail hard enough to make you cry and lured you under the monkey bars for a sloppy first kiss. We all ran from boys like that. But it was kind of fun.

Nobody wants to reach for something they don’t believe they can ever have and let’s face it--none of us are the perfect size with perfect features. Our scars from reality’s bite marks make it hard for us to buy that some perfect hero is going to sweep us off our feet and love us for eternity. And if it can’t happen for us, we have a hard time buying it can happen for a heroine, even one that we love. We need a hero with a few flaws. Whether they are physical, emotional, or just a personality quirk, flaws make our heroes more human. They give us something to forgive (So we can forgive ourselves?). And don’t forget, there’s also the flattering idea that a woman can make a man love hard enough to change!

The perfect hero is imperfect. We love him despite his flaws. He loves us back and he changes for the better. I believe this principle gives us hope, not just for our heroine’s Happily Ever After, but for our own. A good romance story can be so much more than a Cinderella story. It can make us believe that despite all our blemishes we can be loved; and despite his, he’s still the next best thing to Mr. Darcy!

Find out a little more about my flawed hero in TURTLE SOUP! It’s coming this month from Awe-struck Publishing:

Sea turtles may be endangered but after an encounter with marine biologist, Jack Brandon, nothing will stop Sara Hart from naming her deli, Turtle Soup. When Jack takes a job at the nearby Georgia Aquarium, Sara finds the environmental poster boy at her door, hungry and carrying a chip on his shoulder. Neither thinks the other has what it takes, until a scuba class reveals what lies beneath the surface. It will take food, friends, and a little help from Mother Nature, to help them see that making a difference isn’t all numbers and glory. It must begin with love.

Here’s to heroes!

Danielle Thorne


Lindsay Townsend said...

Lovely post, Danielle! I agree re the charm of imperfect heroes - and if they were perfect WE would have to be perfect, too!

Looking forward to the release of your TURTLE SOUP!

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Perfect/Imperfect is good. :) It's more real, and while I'm happy to escape into a certain amount of unreality (lol) I like my writers to have a grip on it too!
Turtle Soup is a FAB title - all the best with it!

Jane x

Savanna Kougar said...

Turtle Soup is a fab title and I love your premise...
Love conquers all imperfections... so it is... here's to your beautiful post.

Danielle Thorne said...

Thank you for the comments and kudos. I'm a little starry eyed after a Jane Austen marathon weekend and all those Regency heroes. :)

I do find it fascinating that is the imperfect heroes who grab our hearts the tightest--as long as they're not out and out jerks. Right?

Miss Mae said...

Really great post, Dani. I had to laugh out loud about that boy who yanked our pony tails. Ouch, didn't that hurt? My husband had been such a boy (not to me, but to the girls in his class). I asked him why boys do that, and he said, "Because it's fun."

Well, that's such an IMperfect answer! LOL

Larry Hammersley said...

Hi Dani: Perhaps my heros need flaws more than just self-doubts or shyness. I write mostly from the male POV, and give my heroines flaws which appeals to my heros. I'd welcome your take on that either here or at our Miss Mae group. Larry

LK Hunsaker said...

Dani, I enjoyed your post and agree that we need to see the imperfections in those we admire because we have our own.

Turtle Soup sounds like a wonderful read.

Cheryl said...

Hi Dani,

Great post! I love that element of writing our characters--figuring out their flaws, and how they are going to overcome them (with the help of the heroine of course!) I am looking forward to Turtle Soup!


Sarah Simas said...

Lovely post! I like how you character. :o)

LOL On the boys pulling pony tails. I think it's foreshadowing we gals failed to miss that men really do like to live on the edge. LOL They're alway tempting fate!

Keena Kincaid said...

Great post, Danielle, and I totally agree! Perfect is boring to write and read. And how can we craft character changes and arcs with perfect people.

Although I must confess Heathcliff captured and kept the greater part of me. That puts me in the minority, I know, but when I look at my heroes, I see more Heathcliff than Darcy in my heroes.

Danielle Thorne said...

I'm always fascinated by those who have a thing for Heathcliff, I must say. Ms. Keena, you are a daring woman. He was a dark,complex man. Great character. I think in real life he'd scare the heck out of me though!

PS-Hi Larry. I am totally intrigued by male authors who write romance (Nicholas Sparks...and yourself). I look forward to checking out your novel to see your take on making a heroine.

Celia Yeary said...

Dani--what a good essay about the imperfect hero--and who best describes one than Heathcliff? But what good is a perfect hero in a romance novel? He has no value.The joy of reading--or writing-- a romance is redeeming the hero--or the heroine. That's the journey I love to follow. I just read Catherine Anderson's 1991 Comanche Heart, and my lands, I cried I don't know how many times, and the tears welled up when the hero realized just how much he had hurt his lady. Now, that's a romance.Celia

Linda Swift said...

Danielle, your "indepth" essays are always so interesting to read. They always give me food for thought. I wish you great success with Turtle Soup. We share a common bond with our "tropical" books being two out of three winners in the same short novel contest and close pub dates. Do you think the ed. being snowbound while choosing winners was a point in our favor????? Linda

Chelle Cordero said...

Hi Danielle -
While perfection, if there were such a thing, might have some appeal for a quick romp but then it would get quite boring...

Good blog