I write a lot of books every year. One of the biggest challenges is figuring out what the hero looks like to me – coloring, facial expression uniqueness, body type, etc. My heroes usually have “dark hair” for two reasons. I was first published by Harlequin and back in the “old days” they were notorious (among authors) for not depicting blond heroes well (or, let’s face it, guys with facial hair).
I thought it’d be fun to take you along with my thought process as I created the hero of Cora Rules, which is book 3 in my Hollywood Rules series and featured in the Book Boyfriends Café Summer Lovin’ anthology. The first thing I think about is a name for my hero. For this story, I landed on Trent Parker. Just his name sounds sturdy and dependable, but he’d also have something that sets him apart from the crowd. So I’m ready to think about a “dark haired” guy and how my heroine might first think of him. It’s kind of like taking my hero for a test drive and it goes something like this:
Could he be like Robert Downey Jr.? If so, I might write something like: He stood next to the display of tennis shoes – tall, wiry, dark eyes twinkling as he watched shoppers pass, as if he was one of Cora’s friends from kindergarten, daydreaming of mischief or recess or…the puppies at the shelter booth across the way. Then those dark eyes found Cora in the crowd, and she felt that twinkle all the way down to her toes.
Or could he be like Johnny Depp in one of his early, soulful roles? If so, I might write something like: He stood next to the display of tennis shoes, standing out more than the neon sneakers next to him with his shoulder length black hair, teal paisley button down, gold-tipped cowboy boots, and collection of Bohemian bracelets on each wrist. It wasn’t until after Cora’s brain registered his appearance that her gaze caught on his soulful one. I’ve loved deeply, that gaze said. I’ve been hurt, those dark eyes said. And something in Cora’s chest constricted and was lost.
Or could he be like Ben Barnes? If so, I might write something like: He stood next to the display of tennis shoes – tall, wiry, tan, a poster boy for exercise. Cora wouldn’t just buy sneakers from this guy, she’d follow him on the jogging trail, have kale shakes for breakfast, and give up chocolate. Okay, maybe not chocolate. And then his dark gaze connected with hers and something inside her shifted. So long, chocolate.
Can you see how taking characters for a test drive helps establish who a hero and heroine could be? Does one of my heroes resonate with you more than another? If so, place your vote by commenting below. If none of them resonates, suggest a different role model for my hero and take him for a test drive starting with the phrase: He stood next to the display of tennis shoes…
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Melinda Curtis is an award winning, USA Today bestselling author. She writes the fun and sexy Hollywood Rules series, book 3 of which is featured in Book Boyfriends Café Summer Lovin’. Jayne Ann Krentz says of Blue Rules (Book 2): “Sharp, sassy, modern version of a screwball comedy from Hollywood’s Golden Age except a lot hotter.” Melinda also writes sweet romantic comedy (Bridesmaid series) and light-hearted sweet romances for Harlequin Heartwarming (Harmony Valley series). Brenda Novak says: “Season of Change has found a place on my keeper shelf”.