Tall, Dark, and Cliched: What to Avoid when Writing Romantic Heroes
by author – Chelsey Krause
We’ve all met this dude.
The tall billionaire motorcyclist with a massive penis.
He’s probably a NAVY seal and MMA fighter too, for good measure.
He enjoys playing the guitar, taking long, shirtless walks on the beach, and running his fingers through his dark, wavy locks.
He’s an arrogant shit head to everyone, but it’s okay… because he was smacked around by his dad when he was little, and so you know. We give him a pass.
This guy gets overly possessive women soon after meeting them. (Cough – stalker!!! – cough), and is horny all of the time, for some reason.
I may be exaggerating a little (well, not that much), but you get the idea.
And I’ll admit, this guy sells books.
Take a look at romantic best sellers. He’s on every cover.
BUT. We must admit that this guy is a total (whisper it) cliché.
Clichés become clichés because they are effective. But after a while, they become boring.
While I don’t hate the tall, dark, and handsome hero, I think readers are ready for something new. And as a writer, there isn’t anything challenging or new about him.
It is my personal goal to write heroes that aren’t models or Greek gods, but lovable in their own right.
Top 6 Things to Avoid When Writing Romantic Heroes:
1) DON’T make your hero 6’4”. Not that there’s anything WRONG with tall people, but… c’mon. This is the most clichéd hero quality of all. INSTEAD write someone who is average height. Or short. Or, have a hero with dwarfism! Why not!?!?? Tyrion Lannister is the shit!
2) DON’T write a hero with skin like a bronzed God, square jaw, and dark, silky curls.
INSTEAD, let your hero have acne. Or wrinkles. Maybe burn scars. Maybe he’s albino. Maybe he’s bald. Maybe he’s a redhead. (What? Diana Gabaldon made it work with her Outlander series! Everyone loves Jamie). Maybe his hair and skin are totally unremarkable! Whatever. There’s a world of possibility. Let your readers see that they can fall in love with an atypical hero.
3) DON’T make him a brooding billionaire, cocky cowboy, surly SEAL, melancholy mechanic, etc.
INSTEAD, make him a happy janitor. Or a bored truck driver. Or an awkward geneticist.
( Here’s your homework: Read “The Rosie Project.” You won’t regret it.)
Just try to think of the most average or unsexist job ever, and then think of ways to make it attractive. The romance industry is SATURATED with material, and if you want to stand out from the crowd, it’s important to have characters that stand out from the rest.
4) DON’T write about his massive penis.
INSTEAD, don’t mention penis size at all. Or, if you really want a challenge, give him a micropenis. (And seriously, if you haven’t heard of that before, google that shit right now.)
And just for fun, watch this. This is one of my favorite movies, and this is probably my favorite scene:
The Penis Game
5) DON’T always make him a pro in bed.
INSTEAD, why not let your heroine take the lead? Maybe your book’s hero is young (like Jamie from Outlander), or inexperienced, or a 40 year old virgin (frig, I love that movie). All I’m saying is that the hero who offers dynamite orgasms their first time in bed is totally overused, and we should avoid it.
6) DON’T give him 8 pack abs, or a “lean, hard body, carved out or marble” etc.
INSTEAD, let our heroine (and our readers) not give a rats ass about what his body looks like. Why not let him be average? Or overweight? Why not give him body image issues? Overweight heroines have been written about. But I RARELY encounter a book with an overweight romantic hero. I think it’s about time that we see him more often.
Besides, that hero with the 8 pack? Yeah. He’s also the guy who lifts his shirt up in front of every mirror he passes just so he can admire himself. You don’t want that.
So you might be thinking, “Chelsey, do you really want my romantic hero to be short, pale, insecure, 40-year-old virgin janitor with a micro-penis?”
Not necessarily. Though, that sounds fantastic. I’d like to see how that story pans out.
What I really want to do is get writers to move away from clichés (as they should) and try something new.
I don’t always want the billionaire with the massive penis or the Navy SEAL with the square jaw to ride off into the sunset with the woman of their dreams.
As a nerd and misfit myself, I root for the underdog. And I want to see the nice, average guy get the girl for a change.
Worried that your readers won’t like the “average” guy?
Try out anything written by Jennifer Weiner (hehehehe – Weiner) and Rainbow Rowell. Their books feature every day people, and I love them for it.
So try it, my writer friends! Break the mold! Lets expand our writing skills, and invent new heroes that the world hasn’t met yet.
About the Author:
I was born and raised in Canada, and live with my husband and two children. I’ve been a nurse since 2009. I’m also a book reviewer for Chicklit Club.
I love thrift shops, musty old books stores, and have a rather serious Starbucks addiction.
On any given day, you can find me repurposing old junk, spending time at the my local library (I’d seriously live there if they’d let me), playing with my kids, or curling up somehwere with a book.
Can’t Always Get What You Want is my first novel.
Find her here:
About her Book:
(click on the cover to check it out on Amazon)
-an ebook copy of this book is included in my MASS Giveaway – which you can enter here.
Sophie Richards has been looking forward to a much-needed girls’ night out: a Rolling Stones tribute-band concert, a few drinks, a distraction from her grueling nursing shifts in acute care. But when her best friend bails, Sophie gets stuck with a blind date.
Although Brett Nicholson may be the hottest carpenter alive, and Sophie may technically be single, she isn’t exactly on the market. Six years ago she found The One. He was everything Sophie dreamed a man could be—and then she lost him. In an instant, her whole life changed, and she forgot all about happily ever after.
But as she gets to know Brett, Sophie starts to wonder about the future for the first time. With a broken heart still clouding her mind, jumping into a new relationship feels impossible. When she’s in his arms, walking away feels even harder. Now Sophie faces an impossible choice: living in the past or choosing love in the here and now.