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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, April 16, 2009

Protagonists 101, Part Six

by Barbra

Hey all,
I hope you had wonderful Easter holidays - despite that Amazon-censorship-glitch incident. Mine was great! Weather was great (and still is)... but I didn’t get nearly as much done as I’d intended. *hmpf*

Oh well. I’d rather get to the point of this, my humble blog post:

In my blog series “Protagonists 101” I’d like to analyze stereotypes and how we as writers employ them to our advantage. Part One dealt with The Boss and The General. In Part Two we had a closer look at The Bad Boy and The Trickster. In Part Three we discussed The Best Friend and The Gal With Courage. Part Four examined The Charmer and The Lost One. In Part Five we talked about The Prodigal Son and The Spitfire. In Part Six we’ll look at The Scholar and The Librarian.

At first, The Scholar isn’t the stuff heroes are made of. He’s cool, analytic and pragmatic, egocentric and not very flexible. However, he improves considerably on closer examination. He’s very honorable, abhors pretentiousness and is always true to himself and his beliefs. Perhaps he relies on hard and fast facts a bit too much, but he’d never let anybody — least of all the heroine — down.
The unconscious heroine in the basement together with a ticking time bomb would never faze The Scholar. He’ll take out his glasses and deactivate the bomb in no time. Then he’ll tend to the heroine’s wounds. After having carefully considered the problem, he’ll find a way out for both of them.

The Librarian is modest and well-mannered, maybe even a little bit prude. Depending on the way she dresses she’s sometimes a know-it-all, but mostly a wallflower. Yet unbelievable passion is locked away beneath her cool outward shell. She’s convinced that her physical attributes don’t help her in life, so she relies on reason alone. She prefers to hide behind books.
The Librarian in a run-down bar and in the middle of a fight? Preposterous! How the heck would she have ended up there? However, if adverse circumstances brought her there, she’d be utterly shocked. She’ll take a look around and find the way out. Of course, she wouldn’t turn down the hero’s offer to help, but she wouldn’t rely on his brawn alone (because she’s used to looking out for herself). She’ll use the umbrella in her hand to push people out of the way to get out of that dreadful place.

Somehow this reminds me of Corum and Xishi in Emma Holly’s Prince of Ice, one of the few books I L O V E ! Can you come up with another example?


Samantha Kane said...

Wow, Corum and Xishi? I never would have thought of them in this context, but, yes, I can see it. I LOVE that book, too! Actually the whole series, but that one was fabulous.

I think you have to lighten up on one of these characters if you're going to pair them together because if you don't it can get pedantic and a little boring. Too much rigidity in the wrong places does not make a good romance. ;-D

Using your example, I think Xishi was the one who was more flexible, thereby opening the way for the true romance to occur.

My favorite is the self-deprecating scholar or librarian. Humor always does it for me. But my least favorite is the stereotypical librarian type--virgin, uptight, prude, emotionally immature, judgmental. I just don't like those characters, and I never find their arc believable or interesting. I'm always thinking the hero should just move on, more fish in the sea sort of thing.

Noelle said...

I think another great (and RITA winning) example would be Lessons of Desire by Madeline Hunter. Although Phaedra is a little more unconventional than the average Librarian, she is a know-it-all and prudishly stubborn about her unconventional ways.
And Elliot Rothwell is certainly a Scholar. For me I think the cool, analytic, pragmatic and egocentric traits of the scholar make him my favorite kind of dominate lover.

That book hit all my buttons better than any other mainstream romance I’ve read.

As for Prince of Ice. You two are insane. I love you both but I have a real “throw it against the wall” problem with that book. I think I might have mentioned this to both of you at some point, I can’t remember but it bears repeating.
Okay, Xishi is his Juliet right? The love of his life since childhood, the one and only ever soul mate he’s been pining for since she was taken away right? And then they are finally together again. Love long denied has finally come and he now has the woman (daemon, whatever) of his life long dreams in his arms and he’s making LOVE to her. The scene should be about the EMOTIONS of the moment and his thoughts should be of love and of HER. Regardless of his non-human physiology the last thought in his head should not be, “Gee this is nice but it would be even better it I had a _____ up my _____.” I’m sorry but that’s such a stupid, unemotional, selfish thought I just couldn’t get past it.

But I do love the world building of the series and loved the first book very much.

Samantha Kane said...

Oh, Lord, lmao. I'd forgotten about that. I know you've mentioned it to me. It's so funny what hits some people, and what other people totally gloss over. I glossed over that. The whole anatomy of the daemons thing worked to explain that to my satisfaction. But I can see what you mean, and why it might put some people off.

I've never read Lessons of Desire. And do you know why? Because I saw a live action book video trailer for it on You Tube that was so bad I couldn't bring myself to read it. It's true. I know that the video has nothing to do with how good the book is, but there you have it.


Anonymous said...

*lol* When you, Noelle, told me how bad you thought that scene/incident was I couldn’t help but (finally) read it myself. And I agree with you, Samantha, and can’t share your view, Noelle. Holly prepared the reader for the scene. She explained the daemon anatomy absolutely clearly and when I read that scene you, Noelle, were talking about (which is the second or the third time they get it on, not the first time) it seemed absolutely normal to me. So the romance was everything my deeply romantic heart wished for and hence I call “Prince of Ice” another of Holly’s books I love!

The only thing in “Prince of Ice” that saddened me a bit was the unfinished story about Prince Pahndir. Personally I think they’d have fit perfectly. The three of them.
I guess I need to get my hands on “Demon’s Fire” ASAP...

I read “Lessons of Desire” and I hate to admit it, but I didn’t like Phaedra very much. Each time Elliot got her out of trouble and turned his back, she ran headlong into the same trouble again just because she was soooo independent. There were moments when I wanted to slap her and tell her to ‘snap out of it!!!’ The book was a nice read, sure, but I had difficulties with responding (positively) to the heroine.

Oh and humor? I think every good story needs a bit of humor. When the characters can laugh about something they themselves did and screwed up - that’s the best sort of romance for me. The chars then become much more believable for me. That’s actually one thing (of the two things) I liked about the two books I’ve recently read - but there were other points in there that inspired another (critical) blogpost... ;-)
Anyway. Where was I? Oh yes. Humor. Humor is essential to romance I believe. Life is a lemon - why not make it an orange (juicy, sweet, just a tad sour, but simply delicious) in romances?

Noelle said...

Yeah, the video isn't the best and you'll notice she never did that again. I don't think, unless she used left over footage for the next. From what I read on her loop that was more the publisher's idea.
And you know the book didn't sell as well as the others in that series and wasn't as big with readers as it was with fellow writers.
And I didn't mind Phaedra's unstoppable stubborness because she is me and it was great to see someone love her (me) anyway.
I also love it because when Madeline and I were talking about it in my car and I mention what I liked about their relationship she said. "Yes! That's it exactly it but others didn't seem to get it." I felt so special, I can't tell you. :)

Anonymous said...

She ... is... you? Clearly I need some time to think about that.

Most probably your understanding her so well (and I and others didn't) is the reason for both why you loved it and it didn't sell so well.

Anyway. To each her own as you, Noelle, always say. I do like those char types. They're hard to write I think. Oh, I love a good challenge! :-)

Samantha Kane said...

"Yes! That's it exactly it but others didn't seem to get it."Yes, I empathize! As a writer it seems to obvious to us, what we were trying to say or do, and when readers don't get it I, at least, am perplexed. Or when they read something entirely different from what I think I've written. But that's the beauty of books. Each person brings something different to their experience of what you've created. And you find your story taking on a life of it's own. It's a bit alarming, but wonderful, too.