Monday, February 14, 2011

Heroes: Body, Mind, Heart, and Soul

Heroes: Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul


Romance, flowers, chocolate, music and….

(and one of my Movie-FAVORITES is in the pic)

Oh yeah!

I know, I know – there are some GREAT posts in cyberspace about the perfect hero.

To get a yummy taste of a few go here or here.

But I want to examine a few specifically. A few heroes from novels and what makes them heroic. Generally, there are four basic pieces to a person – including heroes. Three of them are intricately woven together, and the fourth, well it’s just for eye-candy.

So…where to begin?

Let’s start with the most obvious trait: Body.

Most heroes are handsome, let’s admit it. There are rare occasions when a hero isn’t super-gorgeous, but 90% of the time, the physical appearance of the hero catches the heroine’s attention in some way or other. Whether his eyes, his hair, his smile, or maybe even his voice, there is something that first sparks interest in the heroine.

Let’s look at a few examples:

Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes –

Tabitha had never seen a man with such beautiful eyes. The rich, deep brown of coffee, they sparkled with pinpoints of gold light behind a fringe of lashes that would have made them feminine if not for his strong cheek bones and firm jaw. The powdered hair, ridiculous as it was in Seabourne, created a striking contrast to the dark eyes and sun-bronzed complexion.

Beautiful description isn’t it?

How about this one.

For Pete’s Sake by Linda Windsor

Ellen loved taking a guy out of his four-wheeled cage and putting him on two wheels with nothing between him and the abrasive paving. It separated the men from the boys. And Sinclair was definitely a man. He’d leaned with her on the curves in the road and kept her from wobbling all over creation like stiff, first time riders tended to do. And that rock-hard chest under his silk shirt and business suit was definitely that of a manly man.

Still, she’d never been held quite so…whole-heartedly.

Notice that physical characteristics are the first signs of interest. Most of the time in fiction (and in life) this is the case, but as we all know – it’s only a package. What’s on the inside is what matters most – and that’s true for stories too.

Mind – Heroes are smart, savvy, quick witted. They may be ‘stupid in love’, as Julie Lessman says, but there is something else about them that shows their particular intelligence. Usually it comes out in their profession, but sometimes it can be their smarts in handling their women :-)

Sharpshooter in Petticoats by Mary Connealy

He pulled back, only inches, his intense eyes and stubborn jaw filling her whole world. Made her want. Made her feel. “I’m taking your children out of this fortress tonight. You can come with me or stay behind.”

Made her crazy. “I won’t let you.”

“You can’t stop me.” He fell silent and waited. A big, tall stack of pure stubborn…

When she didn’t respond, Tom set her on her feet, turned, and stalked toward the house, as if he planned to pack the three children up and take them without her permission or company.

She reached for her rifle and grabbed…air. Looking down by her right hand where the muzzle was always waiting, she realized, it was gone. Looking up, she saw Tom carrying it.

“Looking for this?” He raised his arm high so the gun was silhouetted against the starlit sky.

Smart man :-)

What about a man’s talent? Audra Harders describes it like this in her debut novel, Rocky Mountain Hero.

Gabe’s fingers danced along the neck of the guitar as graceful as the hawks she’d seen the other day soaring through the air. Gabe hummed and picked at his guitar. His eyes closed, he appeared in complete worship.


Many times our heroes have specific smarts. Sherlock Holmes is the ultimate example. He certainly wasn’t part of a romance (though the notion of a novel like that is spinning through my head), but his brilliance defined him. Each hero shows his knowledge. How does yours?

Heart – the compassion, tenderness, protective-instinct, determination, ROMANCE, and spirit of your hero. There are SOOOOO many examples, but let me just share a few.

From Laura Frantz novel, Courting Morrow Little

“Are you missing home, Morrow?”

Thoughtful, she met his steady gaze. “No…I’m missing you.”

He came to her and rested his hands on her shoulders, tipping her head back so that cold moonlight spilled into her eyes. “How can you miss me when I’m standing here beside you?”

“I-I don’t rightly know,” she said, feeling she’d stepped off a safe path onto perilous ground. “Aren’t you…missing me?”

His handsome features turned perplexed. “You think I…” …

Gently he framed her face with his hands and brought her head up. “Morrow, you’re mourning.”

Mourning. A startling realization stole over her. He was telling her he wouldn’t touch her so soon after Pa had passed, that she needed time to grieve….

“Yes, I’m mourning,” she said, softly. “I believe I’m mourning you.”

A flicker of surprise played over his handsome face, but his gaze remained steadfast….

“Morrow…are you sure?”

The tender question touched her. “Never surer,” she answered.

Gently, like they were about to dance, he took her in his arms, and she felt a wall within him give way.

Whew…isn’t that scene so lovely. Passion and tenderness all rolled up into such a short amount of space. Oh dear, I do so love that story.

Shall I turn up the heat even more? No one does it better than Julie Lessman- let’s look at a short scene from A Hope Undaunted.

Massive palms slowly grazed the side of her arms, as if he thought she might be chilled, but the heat they generated made her feel anything but. In fluid motion, they moved to her waist, the gentle caress of his thumbs all but stealing her air. His blue eyes deepened in intensity as he leaned in, and his husky voice made her mouth go dry. “Let’s face it, Katie Rose,” he whispered. “I don’t want ice, I don’t want water, and I definitely don’t want chocolate.”

She caught her breath when his words melted warm in her ear.

“I want you…”

And before the air could return to her lungs, his mouth dominated hers with such gentle force, it coaxed a breathless moan from her lips, heating the blood in her veins by several degrees.


Last, but definitely not least, is Soul

As Christian writers, our worldview should come out in our stories – whether overtly or woven into the pattern of our novels. Soul is a part of our characters, and seems even more beautiful in our HEROES.

One of the most beautiful novels I’ve ever read which shows the spiritual aspect of the hero is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Here’s a short scene from the book to show how his faith influences his behavior.

It was growing colder and they needed to return. They dressed in silence, both tormented, both trying not to be. She came to him and put her arms around his waist, pressing herself against him, as a child would looking for comfort.

He closed his eyes against the fear uncurling in the pit of his stomach. I love her Lord. I can’t give her up.

Michael, beloved. Would you have her hang on her cross forever?

Michael let out a shuddering sigh. When she lifted her face, he saw something in it that made him want to weep….

Lifting her, he held her cradled in his arms. She put her arms around his neck and kissed him. He closed his eyes. Lord, if I give her up to you now, will you ever give her back to me?

No answer came.

Read the book to discover the answer.

There you have it. The essence of a hero.

Tell me about your hero? Body, mind, heart, and soul.


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Goodness, Pepper, that was brilliant. Let's see, my hero in real life is my preacher. ;) He is tall and handsome, with dark hair and light blue/green eyes. He is intelligent, with wisdom from above. His heart is pure, loving God first, which allows him to love his wife & children completely...and well. And his is a beautiful thing to get to daily view a soul loved by God. It makes me pant for God's presence. It makes me long for God's touch. My hero is my beloved and he is beloved by God.

Oh wait...were we supposed to talk about our characters???? ;)

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I love Lessman's "all but stealing her air". What a fantastic post!

Thinking about which hero to choose. I think I'll just think on these for awhile! Impressive.
~ Wendy

Sarah Forgrave said...

Wow, awesome post, Pepper! I loved the examples. Shows how they can all have different personalities and backgrounds but still be heroic to the heroine.

Casey said...

I love a good hero and Jenny B. Jones's hero from Save the Date in Alex, was stunning!!! Wow, that man has it all. ;)

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Great post, Pepper! Now I'm going to have to go out and buy all these books so I can read them :) I love coming up with unique heroes that capture my heroines heart in special ways. In the WIP I'm editing, it doesn't hurt that my hero has one of those smiles that stops traffic, can play the guitar, and best of all, the heroines daughter loves him.

Angie Dicken said...

Wonderful post and great quotes, Pepper! I just finished reading The Duchess and the Dragon by Jamie Carie, and absolutely love Drake's character...even though I didn't think I would at the beginning. The best part was how he loved Serena...he was definitely at his best when in love! Great way to start this week!

Keli Gwyn said...

Wonderful excerpts, Pepper. I sighed my way through that scene from Courting Morrow Little when I read the book. My Gwynly has lotsa heart. It's one of the many things I love about him.

Henya said...

You went way out Pepper. Through this post I discovered "new" writers. But who is that man in the picture? I weant him!!!!

Audra Harders said...

Oh my goodness, Pepper. You do know how to fill a Valentine's Day void, don't you? Wonderful examples and even though I'm partial to Rocky Mtn Hero (LOL), I loved the examples from everyone else!!

What a wonderful day!!

Pepper said...

Hey ladies,
I'm so glad you've enjoyed the post. I'll get to each comment once the kids go to bed :-)

Pepper said...

Oh Sherrinda,
That is beautiful! Super! Super!
Who needs fiction, right? :-)

Pepper said...

I want to 'steal' Julie's eloquent words all the time and if I had an ounce of her passionate writing style, whew...I can't imagine what my stories might be like :-)

Pepper said...

Thanks, Sarah - and totally agree. Heroes are all shapes and sizes, but at the core - they hold our hearts.

Pepper said...

You've pricked my interest. I love myself a good hero :-)

Pepper said...

All the books are GREAT!! I love them. They are on my keeper shelf.
I love writing heroes. Maybe more than writing heroines, but that's a close call. The only thing I like writing better is...
comic relief.

Pepper said...

Don't you just love Jamie's writing style. Whew... You've GOT TO READ Love's First Light. WOW!!!
BEAUTIFUL and her hero is quite unique.
In the Duchess and hte Dragon, the hero reminds me a little of Mr. Rochester :-)

Pepper said...

Oh Keli,
You are so blessed.
And I agree - I sighed through that part (and most of that book) too :-)

Pepper said...

THAT man is the awesome Viggio Mortensen who is playing the character of Aragorn in Lord of the Rings.
Very nice!

Pepper said...

So glad you could drop by for some sweets!! Nothing better than Sweet people bringing in their sweetness.

Angie Dicken said...

Yes, Pepper he totally reminds me of Mr. Rochester!!

Julie Lessman said...

WOW, what a FUN post, Pep -- LOVED IT and an absolutely WONDERFUL finish to V-Day!! Uh, well, as far as the computer goes, I guess ... :)

Thanks for including me in this toe-curling selection of heroes -- FABULOUS!!


Jillian said...

What a fabulous Valentine's Day post, Pepper! Well done!

Laura Frantz said...

Pepper, You always have the most fun, inspiring posts!! Somehow heroes and Valentine's Day are better than chocolate and roses even! I so appreciate the excerpts here, especially Miss Morrow and her man:) That was my fav in the book, and a joy to write! Bless you as you write and create a swoon-worthy hero or two:)

Carla Gade said...

What a superb post!! Sigh...