August is drawing to a close and I can hardly believe summer is almost over already. Another month means another Round Robin, and another topic to challenge us :) This month our topic comes from author Victoria Chatham.
Our characters often have some kind of psychological, spiritual or physical wounds. The process of healing forms the character’s arc. What mental, physical or spiritual wounds or scars have you used in your stories?
I do love a tortured hero. Whether it’s the beast from Beauty and the Beast, or heroes such as Mr Rochester and Heathcliffe, Daniel Craig as James Bond, Russell Crowe in Gladiator, Harry Potter, or – my favourite tortured hero – Athos in The Three Musketeers – they all have an immense appeal. With a tortured hero, the reader is dying to find out how / if the character will be “redeemed”, and often the tortured hero finds redemption through a woman. The rakes in Regency novels – such as the Duke of Avon in Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades – or vampires such as Edward Cullen in Twilight, are classic tortured heroes. They may not be totally “redeemed” at the end of their stories, but their lives are completely changed by their love for a woman.
This is another thought-provoking Round Robin topic and – again – it has made me analyse my own stories in a way I hadn’t before. I’ve realised that most of my stories don’t have a tortured hero – they have a tortured heroine, instead, who is redeemed by the hero’s love. In my first novel, The Silk Romance, for example, the heroine, Sophie, is deeply affected by the death of her mother. Sophie has made her mother a promise – one that was made out of love – but as the story progresses Sophie’s promise, along with her grief, become more and more of a burden, and she’s unable to let go, even when she knows her actions are making others unhappy. It is the hero who releases her. The hero in The Silk Romance has his own arc to follow, of course, but the heroine’s troubles are the ones that dominate the story.
One of the best pieces of advice I had as a writer was to make my characters suffer. The more troubles you can heap on your characters’ heads, the more the reader will keep turning the pages, wondering how they can possible escape them. I made Kate Hemingway – the heroine of my novel A Way from Heart to Heart – suffer right from the very first page, when she receives some news that devastates her and would break many people. I made Kate a tough heroine. I piled on the troubles and she bore them with courage, but sometimes in life you find people who seem outwardly tough even while inside they are broken. It took the hero of the novel to recognise Kate’s emptiness and to have the patience and perseverance to help her to heal.
I have a novel I’ve just finished writing. As I said above, this topic has really made me think, and I’ve now realised that this latest novel is a change from the stories I’ve written up to now because it features a tortured hero this time, and not a tortured heroine. In this latest novel it’s the heroine who changes the hero – and many of the characters around her – by the force of her personality. She is much like one of my favourite heroines, Anne Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables.
Thanks to Victoria for another great topic, and to author Robin Courtright for organising the Round Robin. If you’d like to read what the other authors have to say about their own tortured characters, please click on the links below!
Do you have a favourite tortured hero or heroine in books or films? If you’re a writer, do you make your own characters suffer, and if so, how?
If you have any comments at all, I’d love to hear from you!
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Bob Rich https://bobrich18.wordpress.com/2016/08/27/the-wounded-healer
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com