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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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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Protagonists 101, Part Three

by Barbra

In my blog series “Protagonists 101” I’d like to analyze the basic stereotypical patterns of our heroes and heroines. Part One dealt with The Boss and The General. In Part Two we had a closer look at The Bad Boy and The Trickster. Now in Part Three we’ll deal with The Best Friend and The Gal with Courage.

At first glance The Best Friend is a beta-hero. He’s nice, supportive, responsible and proper. He doesn’t like arguments simply because he doesn’t want to hurt other people’s feelings. He’s always there when you need him and you can rely on him. He’d be the perfect husband — if only the heroine found out about that sooner!
Should he find himself trapped in the basement with the unconscious lady and the ticking time bomb he is astonished. Something like this just doesn’t happen to him, the friendly neighborhood hero. Naturally, he’ll tend to the unconscious lady first. Afterwards he’ll find a solution. He’s resolved to do so, because he wants to protect the lady. Salvation from outside is also very likely because The Best Friend has a lot of friends who owe him big time. Actually even the villain would be a bit sad if The Best Friend kicked the bucket.

The Gal with Courage
wants to find her place in this world. She’s helpful, supportive and reliable. She doesn’t have enemies but a bunch of friends. She is witty and resourceful, with a healthy sense of humor.
She’ll never run away. If she found herself in the bar at the time the brawl ensues, she’d first try to reason with the guys going at each other’s throats.
The Gal with Courage would even forget about the differences with the hero for the time being if he can help her settle the fight. If none of this helps, she’ll back up into a corner, flinch with every punch, but crash an empty bottle of glass on anybody who comes too close.

I think Harry Pye and Lady Georgina Maitland in Elizabeth Hoyt’s The Leopard Prince are such a nice couple. Can you think of other fictional characters like those H/H types?


Noelle said...

I have to admit neither of these are types I tend to write. My heroes are darker and my heroines are most often loners.
When I think of these types Julia Quinn comes to mind. Most of her heroines fit into this category. And it's been a while since I've read her but I think you can find Best Friends there too.

What about the movie Notting Hill? I'd say that's the Best Friend & and Gal with Courage.

Samantha Kane said...

I actually like these two types. Yes, Julia Quinn does seem to write them. Katie MacAlister does, too, although not in her paranormal series. But the Corset Diaries, Blow Me Down, The Trouble With Harry, all fall into these categories, especially the heroes.

I once told someone I thought I wrote beta-heroes and they looked at me like I was crazy, lol. I suppose I don't, although I think I write a combination of Alpha/beta. I'm sure you've got one of those in your list of Protagonists.

The only problem with these two, well more than one I guess, is their endless pluck. It wears after a while. And the heroine's inability to see the hero as hero material, and the hero's inability to think of himself in those terms, can get frustrating rather quickly. It's a fine line not to make them too selfless.

Noelle said...

Sam - I wonder if it's because in some genres, like paranormal, the alpha heroes have become such super maxed out mega giant alpha heroes that a normal historical or contemporary alpha guy seems almost beta in comparison.

Endless pluck get too me too that why I like to have that kind of heroine have a moment of either doubt or jealousy to get her more depth.

Noelle said...

Was there one right word in that last sentence?

Sam - I wonder if it's because in some genres, like paranormal, the alpha heroes have become such super maxed out mega giant alpha heroes that a normal historical or contemporary alpha guy seems almost beta in comparison.

Endless pluck getS too me too that'S why I like to have that kind of heroine have a moment of either doubt or jealousy to gIVE her more depth.

And I do think you write Alpha/beta heroes you almost have to with m/m/f.

Samantha Kane said...

I agree about the paranormal alphas, or should we write that ALPHAS. They are extreme, so my guys tend to look not quite so much. And yes, you have to have a little beta mixed in when you do m/m/f or m/m. There has to be give and take. But I think the same can be said of m/f. I think in my one m/f and the one I'm writing my hero has just a touch of beta, too. I think it humanizes them.

Anonymous said...

I think that The Best Friend type is highly underrated. He has a selfless trait, no doubt, but he can also be protective and fight for what he wants – without step on somebody’s toes of course. The same applies to The Gal with Courage.
So, yes, the movie Notting Hill is a nice example for those two types.

I agree that writing them might be hard – it certainly is harder than writing a Boss/General combination. You have to plot very carefully so that the action that doesn’t become frustrating.

As for PR, the heroes there are almost absurdly – forget the ‘almost’ – exaggerated. It’s one of the latest trends I try to cope with but fail every time. Who says a hero has got to be mega-giant-ALPHA to be capable of handling a dangerous situation? And sometimes they’re so unbelievably tragic they border – at least in my opinion – on pathetic.

Whatever the genre, I like them to be believable – human in a word (even though they might be only humanoid), i.e. with a psychological background that’s believable and clear even to me who is in general not the brightest crayon in the box.

Actually I think that that alpha-beta hero difference is a myth that came up with the new definition of alpha males as ‘having extreme physical and mental prowess not to mention tremendous virility’ in the latest PRs.
An alpha hero is the type to go out of his way to protect the one he loves, be it lover, wife or mate (whatever you want to call it). However you achieve that in writing (whether he’s more or less yielding) is something that’s up to you as writer. They still can have a dark edge to them even if they're 'friendly'. You still have to avoid pitfalls like making them seem pathetic and frustrating.