Reading some of my old rejected pathetic manuscripts—did I mention pathetic?—has lead to me do some thinking about heroes in romances.
Readers want their romance heroes to be moral and smart. Heroes should be gorgeous—or at the very least sexy. Readers want a strong hero with just enough of a soft inner side only visible to the heroine. And of course, for me, my hero HAS to make me laugh.
Tall order, huh?
Well, along with all those characteristics, mostly every writing book will tell you that flawed characters are good to have, too. They’re more real. Easier to identify with. Less boring.
Of course there is a fine line that you can accidentally cross with your reader.
I’m wondering if I might have crossed that line recently. You see, I have a problem hero. I don’t know why but for some reason in the small cramped crazy portion of my mind, I thought it would be interesting to have my hero smoke. Yes, he’s a smoker and it’s a contemporary romance.
Do I smoke? No way.
Does my hubby smoke? Not a chance.
So why did I do that? Well, my hero is his own man, for sure, but for all the rough and toughness of him, I wanted this to be his secret vice. His weakness that he is trying to give up, but cannot…until he has a reason to give up cigarettes. Namely, the heroine of my story.
(PS. This is in no way a major plot point, but rather, something subtle I wanted to write into my story.)
As I keep mulling over my story, I wonder if having my hero smoke is a huge “turnoff” to romance readers? Yes, it makes him real. But does this ruin the fantasy of what a hero is by giving him that particular kind of imperfection?
I’m curious to know: in this day and age—is having your hero smoke a huge no no in a romance book? Or is it a forgivable flaw?