Friday, September 6, 2013
Don't turn your Alphas into A$$holes.
Unfortunately, I've had an inordinately high number of DNF's (did not finish) books over the past couple of months (no, I'm NOT going to name authors or books) where the hero was supposed to be some Alpha dude, and he actually comes off as an asshole.
Usually, this was because we didn't begin to see any kind of a redeeming feature in the hero until later in the book, if at all. And in many cases, if there was a "redeeming" moment, I missed it completely because I couldn't stand the hero and DNF'd the book.
Authors, you need to remember your readers do NOT know your characters the way YOU know them. YOU might know the hero isn't an asshole, and if they'll just hold on until later in the book, you'll prove it.
Unfortunately, if you wait that long to show the bad boy's snuggle-muffin side, you're really risking losing the reader.
Here's how you handle it: You need to show, either BEFORE the hero meets the heroine, or as soon as possible after (meaning IMMEDIATELY after) the hero's softer side. Whether it's you show him going in to volunteer at a Hospice house, or he rescues a kitten from a drainage ditch, or he does SOMETHING honorable/valiant/squee-worthy/"awww" worthy -- SOMETHING. ANYTHING. Because, believe me, if the heroine comes away from the first meeting thinking he's a douche nozzle, chances are your readers will, too. So you'd best salvage that bad boy's rep ASAP, or you'll be scratching your head over reader comments later saying how they'd like to roast his balls.
The hero MUST have an honorable streak of SOME sort. He MUST have a reason for us to like him. Even Hannibal-freaking-Lecter, A SERIAL KILLER, had people rooting for him!!!!
Let me repeat that. A SERIAL KILLER.
HAD US ROOTING.
Yes, I'm shouting.
Why do we like Hannibal Lecter, besides Sir Anthony Hopkins' brilliant portrayal of him in the movie? Because he has his own twisted code of honor. If you're not rude to him, chances are, you won't end up on his dinner plate. He plays by a set of rules.
He's a freaking SERIAL KILLER.
And yet we root for him.
Have I drilled this through your head yet?
Here's what you need to ask yourself, and I mean REALLY ask yourself. If you met your hero on the street, and knew NOTHING else about him, and he interacted with you the way he interacts with your heroine, would you like him, or would you call him a fucking piece of smelly toe cheese and tell him to go fuck himself?
Quit whining. Seriously, quit fucking whining about this. I don't CARE what his noble intentions are. If I toss the book thirty seconds after he pulls his Sir Douchey of Cunttown act, it doesn't matter HOW much you redeem him in the last chapter of the book, because I've already chucked it and considered adding you to my "authors to never ever read again" list.
And here's another thing to ponder. If readers see your heroine FALLING for Tom Twatwaffle, they're going to seriously question her intelligence and self-esteem, and they'll want to slap the everlovin' crap out of her. Meaning you'll have a book where readers hate BOTH your hero and heroine.
NOT a recipe for success.
So if you're going to write a bad boy, introduce him FIRST. Make us LIKE him FIRST. Invest us in HIM. Then let him trip into the heroine during their first meeting and give us a REASON to see why he acts like a fucking tool to her. Then you'll have us rooting for HER to see the same goodness in him that we do, and you'll amp up the tension in the process, because we'll be biting our nails hoping they do get their shit together, and that he is able to drop the Dick Dilweed act for her and they'll end up with an HEA we can all love.
Got it? Good.
Now please, please, PEASE stop writing bad-boy-redeemed-in-final-chapter books! Kthxbai!