What makes a hero?

A good hero is essential to a good romance. Popular wisdom would have it that writers need to be a little bit in love with their hero, and that, ideally, your reader should feel the same. So what do you do if the classic romantic heroes leave you cold, if you feel Mr Darcy would benefit from a slap round the chops with a wet fish, and suspect, therefore, that your taste in heroes might be a little bit off?


Well, I started by making my romantic hero a mathematician, because I know that absolutely every girl likes a side order of quadratic equations alongside their tall dark and handsome. But actually, being clever scores definite hero points in my world. It’s why generations of girls, myself included, grew up obsessing over Doctor Who. The idea of a hero who can save the world, not with muscles or guns, but by thinking faster than the bad guy definitely does it for me. Smart is sexy. Come on – I can’t be the only one who wouldn’t kick Professor Brian Cox out of bed for talking about special relativity, can I?


Fun is sexy too. I’ll take an average looking boy who’s prepared to be the first one on the dancefloor, over an Adonis who needs to get home early to top up his beauty sleep, every single time. Better a face that’s lived a little, burnt a bit of midnight oil here and there, made a few ill-advised choices, than a perfectly unlined, and utterly uninteresting, mannequin.


And last, but far from least, kind is sexy. Spare me from dark brooding heroes with cruelness in their gaze. Cruelty, brooding, arrogance, and moodiness aren’t sexy. They’re tiresome in a hormonal fifteen year old, and kind of beyond the pail in a fully grown man. Ok, so maybe he’s had a bad experience and he’s scared of getting hurt. Well, here’s a newsflash, aren’t we all? And that might excuse a little light moodiness, even a hint of very occasional brooding, but cruelty is a no-no. Kind men treat the people around them, including their heroines, with respect, and it it’s good enough for Aretha, it’s good enough for me too.


So lets hear it for the smart, fun, kind guys, be they geeky and shy, weather worn and muscle bound or anywhere in between. You show me a smart, fun, kind man, and, regardless of age or physical beauty, I’ll show you a hero.

Follow Alison on Twitter and visit her blog. Alison’s debut with Choc Lit Lite, Much Ado About Sweet Nothing is coming soon …

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17 thoughts on “What makes a hero?

  1. I agree with your categories, Alison. Yes, brooding just doesn’t do it for me – I could never see the attraction of Heathcliff.

    I’d add the requirement that for a man to be fun, sexy, and thus a hero, he has to have a well developed sense of humour. A man without a sense of humour is just not sexy in my book.

    Liz X

  2. When I was about 11 -I scored 99% in a maths test. I was devastated. I had a huge crush on this really really smart boy – and he got 100% on the test. I just KNEW he could never love me – because of that one answer I got wrong. 🙂
    I agree totally that smart is sexy – and a real hero thinks the same about his heroine too!

  3. My hero at home’s a very kind man, and pretty damn clever too so your formula works for me!

  4. My kind of hero challenges me. Not physically but mentally, so I so get that, Alison. A sense of humour is a must, too though. And he certainly has to have a kind heart. Great post! X

  5. I agree with everything you said, Alison. I get so tired of he stereotypical hero. I could scream sometimes, I really could. Smart, SOH and not scared to show emotions, those qualities are sexy. The brooding, arrogant, perfect cheekbones brigade bore me stupid.

  6. Prof Brian Cox sooooo does for me. But then any man who knows how to take me to heaven and back is a hero in my book 😉 x

  7. Well I’d go for dark and brooding Alison – but underneath all that sulk he’d have to have an amazing sense of humour or our affair would be fleeting. A man who makes me laugh does it for me every time (and not just by taking his clothes off, boom, boom!).

  8. Smart, kind – that sounds like the hero of my current WIP. The heroine is going to have to get him to lighten up a bit and then we’ll have the fun part, too.

  9. The brooding, arrogant types do nothing for me. I prefer them sensitive but confident, am alpha minus, beta plus kind of man, combining the best attributes of both alpha and beta, and losing negative aspects.

  10. Interesting post Alison. It’s sensitive, intelligent and kind for me. But he has to have integrity and definitely not to be a wimp! I too never saw the attraction in the ill-tempered brooding Heathcliff.

  11. Brian Cox is lovely, but the perfect hair is a little off-putting.
    No, dark and brooding is just plain annoying and maybe a bit scary. I like the funny, kind type too. Geeky is not a problem.
    Have you ever seen Parker Stevenson in Probe?

  12. Interesting, Alison! Look forward to reading your novel to ‘meet’ your hero 🙂

  13. My hero would have to be handsome, but on the pretty side rather than rugged. Still masculine though. He’d be kind, considerate, have a good sense of humour, and would be be loyal and honest.

    That makes him sound perfect, but he wouldn’t be. He just wouldn’t have any major flaws.

    Normally, he’d be dark haired and blue-eyed, like Luke in BAIS. Luke is also on the small side. Our next hero, though, is taller, more muscular and fair. And, we hope, adorable.

    Vulnerability is a quality that will always endear me to a hero.

    I like them to be Irish, but Val won’t let me have another. 😉

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