Writing Multi-Heroes While Keeping them HeroicThe third book in my Gardella Vampire Chronicles, The Bleeding Dusk, has just been released. And I love the fact that readers are really taking sides about which of the two/three men in Victoria Gardella's life that they want her to end up with.
I take it as a compliment that there are people firmly on Team Max, and just as firmly stationed with pom-poms on the Team Sebastian side too. That must mean that both guys are hero material--'cause we all know that romance readers read for the heroes. Right?
So I thought it would be fun to write a little about how I've gone about creating two--really, three--distinct hero characters for my Regency-era vampire hunter, Victoria.
In a way, writing a parnormal series made it a little easier to create three different men. It allowed me to give each of them a different background.
One of them was a member of the peerage, and would have been a fine, very fine, hero in any other Regency-era novel. He was handsome, polite, had a history with our heroine, but was, in no way, a "lesser" man, or a boyfriend--or, worse, a villain--as often happens in romances when the heroine has more than one guy to choose from. Rockley is definitely hero material, and he acts like a hero.
Then there's Max, who's also a vampire hunter and who thinks Victoria, who's just learned of her own calling as a slayer, is nothing but a frivolous young girl who has no idea what she's getting into. And, really, he's not too far off--at least at the beginning. So he acts accordingly toward her: disdainful, arrogant, and critical. A friend of mine says that Victoria brings out the third-grade boy in Max. LOL.
And then there's Sebastian. He's a mystery all his own, and we don't know who he is, or where his loyalties lie. But we do know that he would love to get his hands down Victoria's gown, or worse. ;-) And he also has a self-deprecating attitude--borne out by his own secrets.
So as I began to place these men through out the book(s), I had to think about several things for each one:
- What he wants (or doesn't want) from Victoria
- How he would speak toward her
- How he would act toward her
- What is his secret (if any)
Even now, I test myself--and my characters. When I write a scene with one of the men, I stop and sit back and think how a different one would react or speak. What would Max say? How would Sebastian turn this into a flirtatious conversation? What is driving him?
A fun thing I do for myself is sometimes end a chapter with one of the men speaking--without the reader knowing which one. Or I even have their first appearance in a scene be them arriving unexpectedly and speaking to Victoria...but not telling the reader who they are for several paragraphs.
It's a little game I play with myself and my readers--and my critique partners are the ones who get to play it first. They tell me if they can tell who it is by what he says and how he says it. And if they can tell, just by his speech, then I know I'm doing my job and staying true to character.
Here's an example from When Twilight Burns, coming in August:
Victoria came awake sharply.
She didn’t move, kept her breathing easy and regular, and slitted her eyes a crack. Someone or something was in the bedchamber with her.
The room was all shapes and shades of dark gray, any detail that might be discernable in the pre-dawn light distorted by her narrow view. She’d have to turn her head….
“Good God. You might as well open your eyes, Victoria. A gnat could do a better job feigning sleep than you.”
And here's another example:
“Where’s Verbena?” Victoria demanded. She didn’t attempt to turn toward him.So, I won't tell you who's who...but feel free to guess or comment in the...er...comments. Or ask questions. Or share your own feelings about multi-heroes.
“Sleeping quite soundly, I believe,” he said. “A comely girl, but repose is definitely not her most attractive state. Her snores are like to rattle the windows from their frames, and would be fairly off-putting to a gentleman who might wish to…er…lie…with her…though I’d venture to say that the poor beleaguered Oliver would seize the opportunity if offered.