Notice I’ve been careful to use the word reaction and response in proper context! The difference according to Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker and undisputedly the Worlds’ Greatest Salesman is that to react is a negative and to respond is positive. This is important because up until the pointing our stories where the final breaking point for our hero occurs, he’s reacting. His actions are in line with his old behavior, which should cause more problems for him.
Something bad happens to him in correlation to our heroine’s journey and actions and it forces a reaction according to the archetype you’ve chosen (or that he’s chosen for you!) and that reaction should mesh with HER archetype so that conflict arises.
This being romance (primarily) we need to put the two characters
together. Let’s take a moment to understand the Female Archetypes. For timing purposes (read: there’s a LOT of information to sift through on this topic alone!) I’m going to use the same resource as before for my archetype list.
The modernized version of the eight female archetypes are:
The Boss: I’d equate her with the Alpha male, only with that deep instinct to nurture that may be ignored.
The Survivor: This woman has plenty of charm to cover up how she’s sizing things and situations up. Distrust and Cynicism are her tools though you’d never know that.
The Spunky Kid: All American Girl. I relate her to our Best Friend.
The Free Spirit: The trend setter among women. I’ve seen her played/written as younger females, written them myself (Kandy from my Bad Girls story was a “free spirit” drinking and attending Death Metal concerts in an attempt to gain attention from her Lost Soul Hero) She’s got her own way of thinking and generally is just fun to be around.
The Waif: The Original Damsel in Distress. She’s looking for a hero who is strong enough to get her out of danger she had no business being in.
The Librarian: I can’t admit why this is my favorite but it’s pretty self explanatory. (wicked grins) We all know the prim and proper women who is capable of unabashed levels of passion, with the right hero.
The Crusader: Strong willed, sometimes thoughtless in her actions, but definitely a woman to aspire to. Think Buffy or Xena.
The Nurturer: This one’s pretty obvious. I tend to write heroines who start out as free spirits but then that one Big Change happens and they slip into Nurturer mode. The Nurturer takes care of everything and everyone.
All of these women are capable of handling themselves in an efficient manner.
Now we’ve discussed how some of these characteristics can be blended, but again the question you’d probably ask yourself would be: In a dangerous situation what is the Heroine’s first response?
And for conflict, you can pair an Alpha Male with a Boss Woman and make it fun! There’s instant conflict there and you’re sure to get a reaction from your Hero to his heroine’s reaction because inadvertently (according to your well written plot) she’ll do something either as a reaction to his first action, or just to do it for her own goals/motives.
This is where you center the story on how he reacts. From a Male’s POV, women are (stereo)typically the weaker race. Not necessarily less intelligent, just weaker. It’s NOT a bad thing. However in Romance, it has to be. Why? Because if he accepts her limitations and supports her, where’s your story?
So her actions have to drive him to a point of reaction (negative) in order to get to that point where build up and tension have reached a critical point and your heroine, regardless of archetype either does something or is forced into something by circumstances that require the Hero to stop his old behavior and think.
Sometimes he’ll have to think some more.
His internal dialogue will help hi rationalize his old behavior, but what drives him now is not his Goal, but his Motive now. And chances are, the Heroine is involved somehow in that Motive! So his next action should support this new way of thinking. Does he grow? Does he change? Is his confidence renewed? Faith in himself finally given?
I focus on Confidence and Faith in self because those are primary male traits that are often overlooked. Women openly act insecure in mating/dating habits and to prove it you can look around on TV and media. Magazines are always suggesting the newest diet fad or workout tip to make women look a certain way.
Men’s media seems indifferent as was pointed out by one of our classmates. Men are portrayed as dumb, sloth like and the behavior is acceptable. (IMO)
I’d encourage some of you to pick up the first Alanis Morisette album (the one where she hates her ex) and listen to what she says. Really actively listen to the words she uses to describe her anger. For comparison, pick up any album by Slipknot (or Korn for those of you who can’t do the ultra heavy) and listen to the lead singer’s words.
Corey’s pissed and he’s bleeding, (sometimes literally) onstage and why? Because of the image men are supposed to present. It’d take something so great that it’d have to outweigh his personal pain to make him change his destructive habits.
Alanis and Corey are saying the same thing. I hate myself (right now) and want something to happen.
Since our Hero has new direction, he begins to respond (a positive) to the situation in order to gain his newfound love, gift or whatever you’d want to call it.
Józsi, my Alpha in His Reign needed something to motivate him and force him back towards his destiny. I wrote in two Heroines and split traits among them because that’s what the story called for. He was such a Jaded Male that he needed to really have a point driven home and it couldn’t be by just anyone. It had to be his two lovers, Lukina (his head and a natural Boss with a bit of free spirit) and Ilona (his heart, a nurturer with a bit of Boss) who had to show him what he needed to see.
When they were both taken away from him, he had a choice. Continue Being one way and let the only two women he’s ever loved die or change his way of Being and save them.
A bit of homework: (Good idea Sascha!)
I’d like to see a female from either a WIP, or finished story and her archetype as well as what sort of Hero you paired her with and why?
I’ve already given you Józsi, Lukina and Ilona so I’ve played