Historical Hunks & Kick-Ass Heroines - Characterization in the Historical
Moderator: Lyn Armstrong
Definition of hero/heroine on Wikipedia: Hero and heroine came to refer to characters (fictional or historical) that, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self-sacrifice - that is, heroism – for some greater good, originally of martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence.
Wow, they summed up hero/heroine in a nice, neat little box. The fact of the matter is heroes and heroines are much more than the above. To keep up with today’s fast-paced market, writer’s are branching out into new horizons where they are pushing the envelope with characterization. You’ll find a great deal of historicals no longer have helpless heroines who faint at the sight of the hero fighting the villain. No. She is the one fighting the villain with kick-ass moves and skilled swordsmanship or should I say swords(woman)ship. She is the one struggling for survival, protecting her clan, taking on the traditional “hero’s” role in battling the war against evil. These kick-ass heroines may be written in historicals, but they embody powerful women of today’s standards.
After all, who would want to read about a heroine sitting in a corner, crying while her castle is under siege and her family is about to be killed? That’s not to say the heroine cannot show emotions. In fact, it is important for a writer to pull in the full range of emotions a heroine feels during high times of stress. The reader must feel her highs and lows as if they are experiencing the heroine’s journey themselves.
So why do readers love kick-ass heroines?
I may be a little biased as all my heroine’s in the Celtic series are larger than life, powerful women. However, most of them did not start out that way. In fact, my heroine’s story would usually start off with her being in a submissive or subjugated role and through adversity, she grows and finds the courage and inner strength to fight for what she wants, which is usually the hero.
I believe these types of heroines are popular because the reader gets to follow the character’s emotional growth, and know that they are not perfect. At the same time reinforcing that women are powerful. A heroine can take control and still find love and romance waiting for her at the end of the battlefield.
Which leads me to the historical hunks:
Like the heroines, these hunks have changed over the years. Long gone are the days when a knight rides up on a white horse and a sparkle shines from his perfect white teeth. That halo has been knocked off his head and for good reason. It’s not realistic. Heroes must be given a flaw in some way to “flesh out” his character. It may be small or it may be huge, but for the reader to identify with the character, they must have at least one imperfection. After all, the characters cannot be perfect because humans are not perfect. That’s not to say our devilishly handsome men cannot be chivalrous or courageous. Indeed, they do need redeeming qualities, but there is something about a “bad boy” that has readers lusting after him. The hero in “The Celtic Witch & The Sorcerer” is a very bad boy. He is a cruel sorcerer that has evil blood running through his veins. When you add that he needs sexual pleasure to fuel his powers, he is anything but one of the good guys. However, underneath his cold exterior you get a glimpse of his vulnerable side and his secret need for the heroine’s kindness and good nature.
So why do we love these historical hunks?
Does it stem from the fairy tales we read as children? Or is it knowing that the alpha male will always win in the end using his strength, skill and superior intelligence? That good will conquer evil and the hero will whisk the heroine away to live in his castle where they live happily ever after?
Or perhaps historical heroes have an edge over more contemporary heroes. Most of them have been raised in a simpler time where men were manly-men and the elements were harsh and often brutal. They lived by a code of honor, bravery and chivalry yet understand and adore the elemental nature of a woman.
There are many reasons why we love historical heroes. Be it a Scottish highland chieftain, a Roman general or a struggling farmer whose ethics are pure, readers love to get lost in their enticing world, to be seduced by their alpha male presence, bearing and confident poise.
There is an old saying in the romance industry: “Women are romance writers because it is the only time they get to control the alpha male.”
And I wouldn’t want it any other way. ;0)
DISCUSSION: Why do you love historical hunks? Who is your favorite kick-ass heroine in real history?
ASSIGNMENT: Write a paragraph of a hero or heroine with a flaw.
REMINDER: Don't forget, if you don't comment at some point during the seminar, you won't be eligable for the $25.00 gift certificate being given away on Saturday.