I'll be doing a workshop on favorite EC heroes at the 2011 RomantiCon, which is what made me think of hero archetypes and how the different ones resonate with readers of erotic romance. Sure, we all talk about "Alpha", "Dominant" in bed and in life, "hot" and similar terms when discussing erotic romance heroes. We drool over tall, dark, handsome and daring cover models.
Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever and Sue Viders wrote a very interesting book entitled THE COMPLETE WRITER'S GUIDE TO HEROES AND HEROINES: Sixteen Master Archetypes. While reading the book, I wondered into which archetypes the best-loved erotic romance heroes would fall.
He could be any of the eight archetypes but I figured that most likely he'd be layered, since no intriguing guy is 100% to type all the type...and probably evolving, since all good characters grow during the course of a book.
But what is it, really, that makes an erotic romance hero unforgettable? That's what this workshop will be about, and it will start with analyzing the qualities within, ignoring the mouth-watering, heart accelerating outer wrappers. I'm putting it together, in part, here on my blog, and I welcome your comments and suggestions.
According to the authors, here are the hero archetypes:
"The CHIEF: a dynamic leader, he has time for nothing but work.
"The BAD BOY: dangerous to know, he walks on the wild side.
"The BEST FRIEND: sweet and safe, he never lets anyone down.
"The LOST SOUL: a tormented being, he lives in solitude.
"The CHARMER: a smooth talker, he creates fantasies."
"The PROFESSOR: coolly analytical, he knows every answer.
"The SWASHBUCKLER: Mr. Excitement, he's an adventurer.
"The WARRIOR: a noble champion, he acts with honor." (Cowden et al, 2)
My first guess was that most of my favorite erotic romance heroes would be some form of "chief", "charmer", "bad boy" or "swashbuckler", with variations of course. But that's not always true. Among my favorite heroes in my own books are a few LOST SOULS and a BEST FRIEND, as well as numbers of the more obvious archetypes.
LOST SOULS might also be thought of as "tormented heroes" whose view of life is shaped by some psychological or physical trauma. Though definitely a blend with the CHIEF type, Tony, the hotshot lawyer in IN HIS OWN DEFENSE, falls under the "LOST SOUL" archetype because of his traumatic childhood. Jared, coming to terms with a life-altering war injury in ROPED, blends the WARRIOR archetype with the LOST SOUL. Probably the most memorable LOST SOUL in any erotic romance I've read is Joey W. Hill's hero in MISTRESS OF REDEMPTION, in which a BAD BOY is suffering the torment of the damned as he pays for his many sins. Of my own heroes, my personal favorite is Gray from BITTERSWEET HOMECOMING, another LOST SOUL/BAD BOY blend.
We tend to think about BEST FRIENDS as nice guys, and nice guys rarely come first to mind when fantasizing about a hot, dream lover in erotic romance. To be honest, such heroes are few and far between. They can work, though. Kurt, the workaholic surgeon in A MUTUAL FAVOR, my bestselling ever book, comes across as a BEST FRIEND/CHIEF archetype blend. It's the BEST FRIEND part of him that tempers his hard edges and makes him the hero so many readers have fallen for over the years.
Next week, or as soon as I get around to writing it, check out the next installment, where I'll profile some other favorite heroes (mine and other authors') in terms of these hero archetypes and variants.