The Secret Dreamworld of an Aspiring Author by Anna Bell - An Irresistible Leading Man
I’m a woman who, even though I’m married to one, will never understand men as a species. Yet, as a chick-lit writer, being able to write engaging male characters is pretty fundamental. So just how do you go about it?
The leading man. This is the fella readers are supposed to fall hook, line and sinker for. He must make your readers go weak at the knees and he must be so loveable that your audience are willing your heroine to have a happy ending with him.
For me, a few heroes spring to mind in the knicker-pinging stakes. Ben from Jane Green’s ‘Jemima J’, and Alex from Lindsey Kelk’s ‘I Heart’ Series are good examples. But the more I think about it, the more I can’t pin down why, or how, they were irresistible for me. Is it the power that these characters had? Is it the fact that Alex in the ‘I Heart’ Series is a rock star? In the same way, that when you meet those with tantalising charisma in real life, on paper there are just some characters so charismatic, you can't help but fall for them.
So how do you write that charisma onto the page? This is where I struggle. I put my heart into making my female characters into someone that readers identify with; if you don’t care about the protagonist, then you don’t care about the rest of the story. And if I’m brutally honest, this means that I’ve neglected my leading males and perhaps they do lack a little bit of sparkle.
Slightly easier in the male writing stakes, is the bad guy. I guess I have more real-life experiences to draw upon here, so I find writing the mean/lazy/unambitious characters easier. There’s often at least one wrong un’ in a chick lit story, and I think it’s much easier to present their flaws and get the readers to hate them than to write a man readers fancy.
I’ve now started to pay more attention to the blokes I read in chick-lit. When I’m finding someone swoon-worthy, I’m looking at what kind of descriptions are used and what it is about those descriptions that make me fall for the hero. Is it their actions towards the protagonist that I fall in love with, or is it their devastatingly handsome good looks? Is it their flaws? Or their history? It's likely all of these things and I am going to try to concentrate on how I put these things across in my own books.
So, in the interest of helping fellow writers, does anyone have top tips of how to write an irresistible hero? Which male literary characters give you butterflies and why? I’d love to know!