My youngest daughter is getting married this weekend. As modern brides are wont to do, she found her future husband on her own, thank you very much, and did quite well.
But if her father and I had had to search the ends of the earth for a mate for her, I imagine the process would have been much like creating a hero for the heroine in one of my novels. For my smart, sassy, kickass, yet vulnerable, woman, I’d have to have a man who provided all the right qualities:
--Respect. Sometimes heroes must learn this lesson the hard way, as the heroines teach them how they need to be treated. Memorable sparring scenes—Don Alejandro de la Vega (Zorro) and the beautiful Elena with swords, the characters played by Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT with witticisms and body language—are made of this educational process. My heroines—all of them-- are very good at this.
--Loyalty. He must choose her above all others and be dedicated to her through all the obstacles life throws in their way. Aragorn waited decades for the chance to be with Arwen. I can’t imagine him partying with any of the tavern wenches on the Northern borders while he was separated from his true love.
--Dependability. If Jim Kirk’s crew was surrounded by Klingons, you could depend on him to find a way to save them. If my heroine is stranded on a dark road late at night, her hero better be there in a flash to pick her up—every time. That implies he has a working vehicle, a phone and a paycheck—or the galactic equivalent.
--Humor. A hero who can’t laugh at himself—or the crazy world we live in—just isn’t much fun, either to read about or to live with. You have to love Captain Mal’s sardonic humor in the face of gloom, or Han Solo’s grumpy one-liners. My heroine needs a guy who can make her laugh.
--Broad shoulders. Most times you can laugh, but sometimes even the strongest heroine just has to cry. That’s when a heroine needs a guy with a sensitive side, who will be supportive and “there” for her. Jamie Fraser can swing a claymore with the best of them, but Claire loves him (as do the rest of us!) because he never fails to tune in to her emotions. He lends her his strength when she needs it, so she can be there for him, too.
--Passion. Lest our hero begin to sound too much like a Golden Retriever, we must add this final quality. The word conjures images of, well, stuff moms are not supposed to think about in connection with their daughters, but passion encompasses much more than just the physical aspects of love. Think of Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood climbing to Maid Marian’s window to profess his love. He’s enthusiastic, athletic, full of energy and life. He loves this woman! He wants the world to know it, though that would get them both thrown in a dungeon. Will you take this woman? Hell, yeah! That’s what I want for my heroine.
Lucky for my daughter, she has managed to find a hero with all of these qualities. She couldn’t have done better if I had written him myself. So here’s to Jessie and Tyler, the hero and heroine of this story of true love, and their happily ever after.