Help me welcome Dee Tenorio! I met Dee many years ago on the Harlequin Community boards where she tried to keep herds of potential romance writers in line. =) Welcome Dee!
I don’t know about all of you, but I have a serious weakness for a quiet man. Those silent heroes who tell you everything you need to know with a look. A pointedly raised brow. A slow, sensual smile. In movies and books, they get my blood going like a freight train.
In real life…sometimes you just want to grab a crowbar and crack him one until he tells you what you need to hear. “For the love of God man, creamy peanut butter or crunchy???!”
As a writer, I have a habit of writing men who are more the freight train type and my upcoming release, “Trust In Me” is no exception. But that doesn’t mean it was easy. My hero, Locke Jackman, is perhaps one of the quietest quiet men I’ve ever written. Strong, powerful, a natural leader, he does what has to be done without flinching or lamenting necessary costs if it keeps safe the ones he considers his own. But he’s not a talker. Not by a long shot. He does a lot of thinking though, which is all that saved my subconscious from exploding.
My heroine, on the other hand, was not so lucky.
So, how do you show a man who doesn’t talk much falling in love? This was a challenge that sounds good before you start the book. “Oh, I’ll just have him thinking a lot.”
This is a good solution until you realize you’ve gone three chapters without him having a conversation. With anyone. Hell, there’s not even anyone else in the room with him. Aaaaand now you have psycho hero.
Not a good thing.
“Actions speak louder than words!” you tell yourself, trying not to feel the panic. But your hands are just a tad shaky as you back up and layer in some growing physical affection. Something so your reader can see him making a connection to his heroine. Using his senses to be sure the reader knows what he’s feeling. A graze of his hand on her arm. A tingle he can’t erase in his fingertips after touching her. Protectiveness he expresses by using his body to shield her. To defend her. The warmth that spreads across his chest at the thought of her, the tightness that takes it’s place when she walks away…
This is progress. Your reader is in the ride with him. The reader knows exactly where he stands and how far he’s come. But your heroine has no clue. He’s still silent and now he’s freaking out if she’s too many inches away. We’ve gone from silent psycho to silent stalker and your heroine is about to call the cops. (Worse, if she were your friend, you’d insist that she add locks to her doors and windows.)
Not a good thing.
You’re in full panic mode now. You don’t want to keep trying to hook your girl up with the romance version of The Terminator. You want people to feel his intensity but also his vulnerability. His hotness, but also his heart. So where do you go? What can be done? How do you save him and his much needed relationship?
I’ve got one solution for you: Crowbar.
You see, as much as we’d all like to think there’s possibly a magic wand or a one-line solution that will change the entire perspective, the fact of the matter is, being the writer is hard work. It’s frustrating, hair-pulling and occasionally liquor-inducing.
Your hero is comfortable when he’s silent. He’s in control. He’s got no reason to clearly convey his thoughts unless he needs something done. Immediately.
Love, however, is not comfortable. It’s about letting someone inside you deeper than any other person. You’re going to have to force this man open, an inch at a time, to reveal his soft, fuzzy center. Or your heroine isn’t going to fall for him and neither will your reader.
So, here’s your formula for drawing out the quiet man. Put him in situations where he’s out of his depth. Into conversations he can’t walk away from. Make every mistake cost. Then make every success cost as well. Force him to talk, graduating him from one word responses to sentences and eventually paragraphs. These graduations should happen only with your heroine, by the way, each one occurring in a tighter intimate situation than the last. I don’t necessarily mean sexually intimate, though you’re welcome to go there. But every time he becomes more open, it should reflect the growing intimacy between him and the woman he hopes to tie his life to.
Characters, like all the rest of us should, learn from what we lose. He has to be stripped down enough to open his mouth and your heroine has to be aware of the price of his opening up to her. She also needs to appreciate it (No one likes the ungrateful.).
Likewise, your heroine has a job of her own. Like him, she’ll have to prove worthy of everything he’s doing to win her or your readers will reject the pairing and you’ll get mixed reactions. She’ll have to open up to him the same way. One step at a time, until they meet in the middle.
There’s no way you can dictate who will and who won’t like the book. Our job is to do the best we can, tell the story to the best of our ability and to work damn hard to ensure we make the best case for our characters to belong together. That means sealing up plot holes, keeping that characterization solid, the world-building tight and above all else, make the readers fall in love as your characters do.
The point isn’t to make a quiet character into a chatterbox or change his personality. It’s to give him the freedom to be vulnerable—to be completely honest—with someone. THE someone. His core and his defenses should be intact with most everyone else, in some form. Never lose sight of who he is. Just make sure you focus on showing him—and his soulmate—who he can be.
If you can achieve all of that, you’ll have yourself a character readers will clamor for and the best part? You won’t have to say a word about how you did it.
What is YOUR favorite type of hero to write about/read about?
Join us on Wednesday for Tracey Devlyn’s post on becoming a career novelist.
Sometimes falling in love is the easy part…
A Rancho del Cielo Romance
Locke Jackman is single, childless…and he has a bad case of empty nest syndrome. For years, as he fought tooth and nail to keep his brothers and sisters together after his parents died, his entire life was focused on his responsibilities.
Now his siblings have all moved on with their lives, and there’s no one around to distract him from his overpowering attraction to his sister’s best friend. Their mutual desire is stunning…but then again, so are the secrets keeping them apart.
Susie Packard’s nightmarish marriage taught her what happens when she gives in to her weakness for powerful men. Too bad the big, stoic frowner across the street—the one who sets her bells jangling just by breathing—has her in his sights.
Try as she might to keep her emotional distance, Locke is determinedly knocking down all her walls. But as much as she wants to be the woman he needs, she knows better than most— passion may have its rewards, but every secret has its price.
Warning: This book contains a hot, modern-day Viking seducing his way to the heart of his woman, a stubborn lingerie designer with a world of secrets and a very deep bathtub… Enjoy!
Bio: Dee Tenorio has been writing all her life, but she didn’t aim seriously for publishing until about fifteen years ago. It took her eight years to get her first contract, but she’s a huge proponent for continual education in writing. She spent several years as a community host for Harlequin.com, where she mostly worked with both aspiring and established authors, teaching and learning the arts of writing romance in equal measure. She is the author of twenty published novels and novellas and is constantly plotting more. Her next book, “Trust In Me”, with Samhain Publishing, is the fifth book in her Rancho del Cielo Romances series and releases July 23rd, 2013.
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