Sunday, 9 August 2009

PLOTTING WITH WOUNDED HEROES

My heroes are all wounded. Not just emotionally, but physically, as well. Being a hero in a Cheryl Pierson story is like being an expendable member of the landing party on Star Trek. If you had on a red shirt when you beamed down to the planet’s surface, you could pretty well figure you weren’t going to be returning to the Enterprise in one piece, or alive.

In my recent TWRP historical western release, Fire Eyes, U.S. Marshal Kaed Turner is tortured and shot at the hands of the villain, Andrew Fallon, and his gang of cutthroats. A band of Choctaw Indians deposit Kaed on Jessica Monroe’s doorstep with instructions to take care of him. “Do not allow him to die,” the chief tells her.

Can she save him? Or will he meet the same fate that befell her husband, Billy? Although Kaed’s injuries are severe, he recovers under a combination of Jessica’s expert care and his own resolve and inner strength.

The injuries he sustained give him the time he needs to get to know Jessica quickly. Their relationship becomes more intimate in a shorter time span due to the circumstances. Under normal conditions of courtship, the level their relationship skyrockets to in just a few days would take weeks, or months.

Wounding the hero is a way to also show the vile, evil deeds of the villain. We can develop a kinship with the hero as he faces what seem to be insurmountable odds against the villain. How will he overcome those odds? Even if he weren’t injured, it would be hard enough—but now, we feel each setback more keenly than ever. He’s vulnerable in a way he has no control over. How will he deal with it, in the face of this imminent danger?

Enter the heroine. She’ll do what she can to help, but will it be enough to make a difference? This is her chance to show what she’s made of, and further the relationship between them. (If he dies, of course, that can’t happen.)

From this point on, as the hero begins to recover, he also regains his confidence as well as his strength.

It’s almost like “The Six Million Dollar Man”: We can build him stronger…faster…better…

He will recover, but now he has something to lose—the newfound love between him and the heroine. Now, he’s deadlier than ever, and it’s all about protecting the woman he loves.

Or, his injuries may give him a view of life that he hadn’t hoped for before. Maybe the heroine’s care and the ensuing love between them make the hero realize qualities in himself he hadn’t known were there.

In my holiday short story, A Night For Miracles, wounded gunman Nick Dalton arrives on widow Angela Bentley’s doorstep in a snowstorm. Angela is tempted at first to turn him away, until she realizes he’s traveling with three half-frozen youngsters, and he’s bleeding.

As she settles the children into the warmth of her home and begins to treat Nick’s injury, she realizes it’s Christmas Eve—“A Night For Miracles,” Nick says wryly. “I’m ready for mine.”

In this excerpt, the undercurrents between them are strong, but Nick realizes Angela’s fears. She’s almost as afraid of taking in a gunman with a reputation as she is of being alone again.

FROM “A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES” (RELEASE DATE DEC. 2, 2009, TWRP)

Angela placed the whiskey-damp cloth against the jagged wound. The man flinched, but held himself hard against the pain. Finally, he opened his eyes. She looked into his sun-bronzed face, his deep blue gaze burning with a startling, compelling intensity as he watched her. He moistened his lips, reminding Angela that she should give him a drink. She laid the cloth in a bowl and turned to pour the water into the cup she’d brought.

He spoke first. “What…what’s your name?” His voice was raspy with pain, but held an underlying tone of gentleness. As if he were apologizing for putting her to this trouble, she thought. The sound of it comforted her. She didn’t know why, and she didn’t want to think about it. He’d be leaving soon.

“Angela.” She lifted his head and gently pressed the metal cup to his lips. “Angela Bentley.”

He took two deep swallows of the water. “Angel,” he said, as she drew the cup away and set it on the nightstand. “It fits.”

She looked down, unsure of the compliment and suddenly nervous. She walked to the low oak chest to retrieve the bandaging and dishpan. “And you are…”

“Nick Dalton, ma’am.” His eyes slid shut as she whirled to face him. A cynical smile touched his lips. “I see…you’ve heard of me.”

A killer. A gunfighter. A ruthless mercenary. What was he doing with these children? She’d heard of him, all right, bits and pieces, whispers at the back fence. Gossip, mainly. And the stories consisted of such variation there was no telling what was true and what wasn’t.

She’d heard. She just hadn’t expected him to be so handsome. Hadn’t expected to see kindness in his eyes. Hadn’t expected to have him show up on her doorstep carrying a piece of lead in him, and with three children in tow. She forced herself to respond through stiff lips. “Heard of you? Who hasn’t?”

He met her challenging stare. “I mean you no harm.”

She remained silent, and he closed his eyes once more. His hands rested on the edge of the sheet, and Angela noticed the traces of blood on his left thumb and index finger. He’d tried to stem the blood flow from his right side as he rode. “I’m only human, it seems, after all,” he muttered huskily. “Not a legend tonight. Just a man.”

He was too badly injured to be a threat, and somehow, looking into his face, she found herself trusting him despite his fearsome reputation. She kept her expression blank and approached the bed with the dishpan and the bandaging tucked beneath her arm. She fought off the wave of compassion that threatened to engulf her. It was too dangerous. When she spoke, her tone was curt. “A soldier of fortune, from what I hear.”

He gave a faint smile. “Things aren’t always what they seem, Miss Bentley.”


I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into what makes my heroes ‘tick.’ For more information and excerpts, I semi-maintain two blogs for your reading pleasure.

http://www.cherylpiersonbooks.blogspot.com is my writing tips and news blog, and
http://www.westwindsromance.blogspot.com is my western historical blog. You can visit my website at http://www.cherylpierson.com

Thanks for reading! Please leave a comment!
Cheryl

41 comments:

Lindsay Townsend said...

Excellent blog, Cheryl! The wounded hero is a very powerful symbol and you use it compellingly. I love your vivid, feeling excerpt.

Wow - we have seen lots of heroes and kinds of heroes this week! I hope you have all enjoyed it as much as I have.

Thank you so much for blogging and reading, everyone!!

HEROINES coming soon...

BEST WISHES,Lindsay

Keena Kincaid said...

Ah, Cheryl, I'm with you. There's something about wounding a hero--using a physical wound to stand in for a spiritual or emotional one.

I've just realized, though, that my heroines never tend to the hero's physical wounds. Instead of using it to jump start a relationship, I use wounds to show how very alone my heroes are.

Susan Macatee said...

Riveting excerpt, Cheryl! I'll be looking for this one.

And I agree. I write Civil War romances and my heroes often end up wounded with the heroine caring for them. And sometimes, it's the other way around.

I like equal opportunity. LOL.

Penny Rader said...

Great post, Cheryl! I wounded both of my main characters in Sapphire and Gold. They begin the story with emotional wounds, but then my heroine, Alexandra, is physically wounded near the beginning of the story and taken care of by my hero, Derek. Then, near the end of the book, Derek is physically wounded and cared for by Alexandra.

Being wounded brings out their vulnerability. It also helps bond them.

I can't wait to read A Night for Miracles!

Jennifer Ross said...

Wow. I was hooked on the first book you mentioned before, but now I've got to read the second one, too!

Cheryl said...

Hi Lindsay,

Thanks! I'm so glad you liked the post and the excerpt. And thanks for your kind words about my writing. I have really enjoyed every book I've written, but of course, I have some favorites--it seems though, they all have this factor in common! LOL

Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Yes, Keena! And sometimes, they have the physical, emotional and spiritual wounds -- ALL OF THEM!!! Those are the really tortured heroes. I remember one book I read, a medieval romance, where the hero was in battle and turned around to see his young son riding in to battle to "save" him. Of course, he was distracted, and wounded, but someone delivered a killing blow to his son and the boy died in his father's arms--he was like 7 years old. The hero was cursing God for letting it happen, then cursing himself for not saving the boy in time, and was wounded physically. Talk about some angst! It was a really good book.And like you, this author used the hero's plight to show how alone he was in the world, until the heroine (his enemy) "fixed him." LOL Thanks for commenting, Keena. I'm going to try to find a Pete excerpt for you here in a minute...
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hi Susan,

Glad you enjoyed the excerpt and the post. I admire anyone who writes Civil War romances--that, to me, would be a really hard time period to write about. I have an idea for a story kicking around, but haven't started on it yet. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

OOOHHH, Penny! I like that idea of having them care for one another! That's cool, because they would both know what it was like to be on the "giving" and "receiving" ends of things. Thanks for coming by and commenting!
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hi Jennifer,

THANK YOU! What a nice compliment! FYI, Fire Eyes was released in May through The Wild Rose Press (full length novel) and A Night For Miracles that this excerpt was taken from is a holiday short story that will be released through TWRP on Dec. 2 of this year. ALSO in December, I have another full length novel coming out with Class Act Books called TIME PLAINS DRIFTER. It's got a lot of paranormal/time travel in it, but is a western, and deals with the struggle between good and evil, Heaven and Hell, and the human, one from the past and one from the future--who have to deal with it. It's one of my favorite things I've ever written, and I have a sequel planned for it. You can read more about it at my blogs, and I plan to go there to both of them in the next day or two and do a re-vamp with a lot more info on that book and A Night For Miracles. Thanks so much for coming by, Jennifer!
Cheryl

Miss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheryl said...

Hey Miss Mae!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment! I'm glad to know you enjoyed the post and that there's another "trekkie" out there--After I wrote that in the post, I started thinking...hmmm...will anyone remember that OR The Six Million Dollar Man?LOLLOL
Yes, it's wonderful fun being a writer and having some kind of power to wield over our pretend people, isn't it? LOL Is that why we do it? Are we power hogs? something to consider...LOLLOL
Cheryl

Hywela Lyn said...

What an interesting post Cheryl. As you know I'm reading Fire Eyes and loving it. I love the analogy to Star Trek and the 'expendable member of the crew' that's so true!
I think my characters feel the same way actually, they never end up unscathed, either physically or emotionally. Oh the power of being a writer! :)

Thanks for a great article.

09 August 2009 16:48

Chelle Cordero said...

LOL - Thank you! I was beginning to think I was a sadist...

I just wrote a guest blog (for another site) about the fact that I put each of my heroes into the hospital.

I use the ploy, like you, to emphasize the vulnerability and make them more realistic (human); one of the things I always detested with the early Bond movies was his seeming invincibility and constant virility.

In my most recent novel, Hostage Heart, I send Ryan to the hospital where he wonders if he will ever walk (or be able to make love) again. Deanna's support is very pivotal to his recovery.

Thanks for a terrific look at our hero's and their being human.

Mary Ricksen said...

Aren't we all suckers for a wounded hunk!

EA said...

What a great post. So, you like to wound your characters. Nothing wrong with a little blood, bruises and pain. BTW, thanks for sharing that little known fact about the Star Trekkies.

Penny Rader said...

I never really watched Star Trek while growing up. (Didn't realize the red shirt guys were goners till I watched the movie Galaxy Quest). I loved the Six Million Dollar Man. (I also watched the Bionic Woman. And Charlie's Angels.) Now you all know how old I am. (grin)

Ilona Fridl said...

Cheryl,
I tend to beat up both my hero and heroine. It shows a lot of charater (Pun intended) on how they react and take care of each other. Excellent post!

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

I love heroes that are strong and can take on the world, but they still need to seem human. What better way than to see they can also be hurt, that they're not invincible. It makes what they accomplish so much more meaningful.

Nice Post. :) I can't wait to read your other books.

Cheryl said...

Hi Lyn,

LOL well, there aren't many of us out there that still remember Star Trek when it was on the FIRST time. LOL Love that power! LOL Thanks for commenting!

Cheryl

Margaret Tanner said...

Wonderful excerpt Cheryl, As always, you do the wounded, tortured hero to perfection.
cheers
Margaret

Cheryl said...

Chelle,
No, hon, you aren't a sadist! LOL I do that to all my people! LOL I don't think I'm cruel. It always makes us feel better to find others that are writing in the same style we are. LOL My cousin told me that she couldn't finish Fire Eyes for a few days because Fallon was so evil. She said, "I kept wondering who you had modeled him after in our family." LOLLOL
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hi Mary,

Yes, I know I do--a hunky wounded hero just makes my day!
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hey Evie,

Glad you liked it! Oh, I love to wound the poor dears! Then they can be taken care of! LOL
Cheryl

Debra St. John said...

Great excerpt. Those wounded heroes are appealing!

Cheryl said...

Hi Penny,

Yes, if you had on a red shirt you weren't coming back! I watched all those shows, too! I'm 52!!!

Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hi Ilona,

GREAT! A kindred spirit! Thanks for stopping by!

Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Oh yes, Karen! I love those wounded heroes sooooo much! They aren't invincible for sure, and sometimes they need to realize it, too.LOL Thanks for commenting. I hope you like Time Plains Drifter.

Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hey Margaret,

THANK YOU SO MUCH. I do love the tortured heroes! Thank you for commenting! I appreciate that!
Cheryl

LK Hunsaker said...

What's a hero without scars? ;-)

I'm a fan of your wounded heroes, as you know. And I watched all those ST reruns many times.

There has to be something in us that enjoys danger at a distance.

Cheryl said...

Hey Debra!

THANK YOU! I'm so glad you liked it!

Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hi Loraine!

So glad you love the wounded heroes!LOL OH YES, the ST reruns--I have them all on tape--I would love to splurge and buy a boxed set of the DVDs!

Cheryl

Savanna Kougar said...

Compelling excerpt, Cheryl.

Yep, I well remember the red shirt crew not coming back in Star Trek... I'd think, he's probably a goner.

While I have used a wounded hero or heroine, if it fits the story, I'm not a fan of hospitals or being anywhere near them. A fear thing I've had ever since I can remember. So, of course, I don't write that as a main plot point. No fun at all, for me.
~~~

"I use the ploy, like you, to emphasize the vulnerability and make them more realistic (human); one of the things I always detested with the early Bond movies was his seeming invincibility and constant virility." ~ ACTUALLY, this is why I read every novel by Ian Fleming and saw the early Bond films.
Only in the novels Bond was never portrayed as invincible.

Cheryl said...

Savanna,

I've heard this from people who have read a lot of Ian Fleming--that Bond was not as they portrayed him in the earlier movies--more like the Daniel Craig Bond, who I LOVED, btw, because he WAS so much more human than the earlier movie portrayals.

I guess I write a lot of wounded heroes because I always wanted to be a nurse when I was younger, and saw it as glamorous. LOL So that must have translated into my writing.

Thank you for coming by and reading and commenting! There are a lot of "Trekkies" out there! LIVE LONG AND PROSPER!

Cheryl

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Wounded heroes, heck, yeah! Give 'em what for (as long as you make it all better afterwards! ;-) Great post, Cheryl.

Jane x

Linda Banche said...

Wonderful post. I'm with Jane. Wounded heroes are great.

Kathye Quick said...

wounded heroes give the hero and heorine a rason to bound instantly, emtoionalyy and physically.

Graet job and nice excerpt

Cheryl said...

Hi Jane,

LOL You know I always DO give 'em what for in my stories...but I always make them all better by the end, too, and much happier than when they started out.

Glad to hear from you, Jane. Thank you!
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hi Linda!

I think they are great, too. (OBVIOUSLY!!!) LOL Thanks for reading and commenting!

Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hi Kathye,

YES, that immediate bonding is so important--kind of helps to jumpstart the story, IMO, and I love using that as a tool.

Thanks for commenting!
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Lindsay,
Thanks so much for the opportunity to talk about our favorite thing--our HEROES!!! I have really enjoyed reading everyone's posts and takes on the hero. This has been a fun topic!
Cheryl