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"Chloe Harris" really is the pseudonym for two writers, Noelle and Barbra, who've joined forces to write intriguing and sexy stories. A quintessential eccentric southerner, Noelle seems to find a story in almost everything. Ever ambitious to change her stars, she has a degree in Communications. Barbra lives together with her cat ('Princess Mimi'), who isn't very happy that she is spending so much time on writing. But this folly of the living can opener with opposable thumbs is mostly tolerated.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Protagonists 101, Part One

by Barbra

Recent discussions made me think of what I’m looking for in a hero or heroine. Let’s be honest, from a certain perspective our protagonists are stereotypical. It’s only how we present their character traits that makes them ‘unique’.
In my blog series “Protagonists 101” I’d like to analyze the basic stereotypical character patterns of heroes and heroines in romances.

Part One deals with The Boss and The General. In Part Two I’d like to have a closer look at The Bad Boy and The Trickster. In Part Three we’ll deal with The Best Friend and The Gal with Courage. Part Four will examine The Charmer and The Lost One. In Part Five we’ll talk about The Prodigal Son and The Spitfire. In Part Six we’ll look at The Scholar and The Librarian. In Part Seven we’ll go through The Adventurer and The Crusader, and finally in Part Eight we’ll discuss The Warrior and The Big Sis.
I grouped the various character patterns like this, but that doesn't mean that you can’t mix them. I bet you can find The Charmer with The Librarian also, for example.

One type of hero is The Boss. He is an alpha male hero prone to testosterone poisoning. Either he’s born to lead/rule or he’s worked himself up to the top of the food-chain. He has clear goals. Arrogant and not flexible, he likes to let off steam one way or the other.
Should The Boss type find himself imprisoned in a basement with an unconscious lady and a ticking time bomb he’s — first and foremost — royally pissed. He’d rather die than admit he’s made a mistake (even though now that he finds himself in this tricky situation it means that he must have done something wrong... or not?). He’ll pummel the villain and his cronies and find his way out by accident, taking the lady with him. She might come in handy one way or the other...

Your heroine can be The General, who is basically energy impersonated. She looks after everybody and everything and is respected by everybody in return. “Failure” is not in her dictionary. She is self-confident and ambitious, even arrogant. However, with that amount of responsibility she often forgets what life really is about (btw to show her the interesting things in life is the hero’s job).
Should The General find herself in a run-down bar with the hero (who she doesn’t like at all at this point) and a brawl ensues, she’d be the first to go between the opposing parties, demanding they stop their irrational and childish behavior right away. If the fighting guys don’t do as she says, she’ll be highly irritated. The General will likely take matters into her own hands and God have mercy on the poor souls then!

I’d say Madeline Hunter’s Morvan Fitzwaryn and Anna de Leon in The Protector epitomize those two hero/heroine types. Can you name any other fictional characters that fit this mold?

8 comments:

Noelle said...

Great Post, I can't wait to read the rest of the series.
The book I just finished "At Her Service" by Susan Johnson is a perfect example of the The Boss and The General.

Barbra said...

Thank you, Noelle!

Oh? Susan Johnson really digs those types, doesn’t she? I haven’t read that book. Can you briefly tell me what it’s about? Who’s The Boss and who’s The General?

Noelle said...

First let me say that At Her Service was a comfort read for me. Oh that might be my next blog, explaining what a comfort book is. But the short answer is a book with my favorite old tropes set in a great place with lots of spice where you overlook things that might bother you otherwise and just read with comfortable joy.
It’s set in Russia during the Crimean War. Having grown up a child of the cold War I am obsessed with all things Russian. Hugh D'Abernon, Marquis of Darley is The Boss, English lord and master spy masquerading as a Tartar warrior. Sex is his way of letting off steam. Aurore Clement is The General. She has run her parent’s vineyard since their deaths and spies for the French. They are thrown together by the war and butt heads and other things at each turn. ;)

Barbra said...

Oh wow!!! That sounds intriguing! Yeah with that make-up they're both bound to be bossy chars that butt heads... and other things. *lol*

Samantha Kane said...

Oh, the number of books I've read with The General and The Boss! And quite frankly, they are not my favorite character types, particularly the General. I find them incredibly frustrating and I spend most of the book just wanting to smack them. Most of their problems stem from their inability to communicate or compromise, which I don't like in people or characters. I don't write them. At least, I don't think I do. My characters tend to have a core of vulnerability that you don't generally find in these two types.

Great blog series! I can't wait to read the rest.

Barbra said...

Thank you, Samantha!

To tell you the truth, they’re not quite my favorite types either. It depends on how they're presented.
If they're unreasonable and unwilling to even try to understand other chars much less listen to them because they think they know better anyway they're flat and boring. I think that's lazy plotting.
But if they're capable of listening to reason and they're too smart for their own good, their butting heads promises to be fun to read!
I see the need to pair them, though. It’s hard to find a suitable counterpart for either of them. A more yielding char wouldn’t do because they’re so domineering but also because the plot would suffer. The Boss and the General are made for each other.

Samantha Kane said...

I actually prefer it mixed up a little, for instance the General with a funny beta hero, or the Boss with a hippie chick. Not sure which of your types those are, lol. I think the opposites attract model works best for me.

And I agree about the lazy plotting.

Barbra said...

A funny beta hero... like The Bad Boy, The Charmer or The Adventurer? And a hippie chick like... The Gal with Courage, The Spitfire or The Crusader?
Yes, the two bossy types mixed with these is definitely more fun - it's harder to write also I think.