Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Tortured Hero (Picture is Craigen From Soul Extraction my Current WIP)

Today I thought I would talk about how I created the hero in my current wip, Soul Extraction. He is the epitome of the tortured hero. Poor guy is a mess but a very sexy mess. It takes many layers to create a true tortured hero and you have to peel the layers away as the story progresses. Opening one wound at a time and a good character will fight you all the way. If your character has a damaged past they are going to refuse to tear down walls and be open, even with the woman they believe could be the love of their life. Most tortured heroes would rather walk away with their defenses up than give in and open themselves to the possibility of getting hurt again. This is where you find the battle of wills begins. However, remember this creates tension, which is good. It can be helpful when it comes to conflict, sexual tension and internal conflict. It ratchets the story up to a new level.

What makes a good tortured hero? Well he is someone that has had a tragic past and wants to put it behind him and forget it. The problem lies in the fact that it isn’t that simple. Every time he turns around there is something that reminds him about the agony he carries with him. Most of these heroes try to shut themselves off from the outside world and live a solitary life. The problem is they still want the companionship but don’t know how to get over the emotional rollercoaster they ride everyday. That is where the heroine comes in and he is torn and usually fights the feelings the meeting opens up in him.

Craigen from Soul Extraction has many such wounds and is torn between the past and the present. A former angel that is now labeled one of the fallen. In his grief, he turned to drinking to ease his pain, which works until he is summoned by God to take down Nyx a sexual demon steeling women’s souls. Nyx is part of the reason he ended up one of the fallen. Three hundred years ago, he was sent to earth to catch Nyx. Craigen finds himself protecting a beautiful human and looses his heart to her. Following his heart he falls in love and is chased from the heavens by Michael the archangel. She becomes pregnant and dies in childbirth, leaving a gaping wound in his heart. He has lost everything, the love of his life and his angel status, a cruel reminder of his mistakes. Then he is called to take Nyx out for the second time and if he does, he will be welcomed back into heaven with open arms. But in the process, he meets Lyric the heroine and everything spins out of control again. He tries to push his feelings aside but they gnaw at him continually. When Nyx come after Lyric his protective nature takes over. He refuses to allow the past to repeat its self.

I love to write the tortured hero. All my heroes have had past that have left a deep seeded wound. In my opinion, they make the best heroes and bring tension to the story. A sexy hero that fights his feelings makes for some great sexual tension. They also demand the reader to sympathize with them, it makes them real. Flaws bring out the reality of the character. We are all flawed in one-way or another and a perfect hero is not very believable. I like my heroes to be damaged because it makes the tension high and the passions even higher when they go over the edge. They have been denying their feelings for so long that when they finally let loose watch out it is going to be intense.

To write a good tortured hero you have to have a good back-story. The thing is you also have to write it good or it is just an info dump. You have to weave it in little bits at a time and not just one big clump of info or you are going to loose your reader. In my wip S.E. the info about Craigen comes out in small bits all through the story, not in one big lump of info. This is very important. You also have to remember there has to be a reason to tell the back story, not just okay I’m going to give up the back story here just for the heck of it. In Soul Extraction Lyric tells her back story after she is attacked by Nyx and Craigen asks why she became a FBI agent. He is trying to distract her from her racing feelings. The problem is he opens up a whole other situation as he listens to her reasoning. This does not happen until chapter twelve so by this time you know Lyric and like her. This is very important, if the reader does not know the character yet then they won’t care about the back-story. There is a method to the madness of writing back-story.

When I start to write a character I look for things that will inspire me. I look to movies, music, and books. There is so much in this world to inspire you. Sometimes it may just be a walk in the park or sitting alone with your thoughts. I also love to search for pictures of my characters to look at while I write. It makes my characters come to life, for me at least. I find myself looking at them and waiting to hear them speak to me. I also do character charts for each of my characters and this breathes life into them too. It answers questions about them you never thought to ask.

Here are some links:

The song that reminds me of Craigen, poor thing. He lost the only woman he ever loved and she haunts him now. This song is perfect for the emotions he carries with him.

My Immortal/ Evanescence

Character Chart, it will be the first one that comes up. It is a great tool, keeps you on track, and helps when you wonder the little things about your characters.

I would love to hear what you think about reading or writing the tortured hero. Do you think they bring more tension to the story? I personally want a strong alpha with a tortured past.

Till Next Time, Happy Reading and Writing,

Tabitha Blake


Brenda said...

Very very good post, Tabby. I too love a tortured hero. And yeah, he has to be like an onion--not smelly, lol, but full of layers.

Tabitha Blake said...

I love me a sexy tortured hero. They are the best like of heroes. Glad you like it!

Emma Paul said...

Yes I agree great post, and I love your character Craigen, he is so many things, Hard, smart, sarcastic, hot headed, caring, protective, the list goes on and on. Creating a tortured hero helps us relate more to the characters. I'm of the oppinion that everyone has their own story to tell, Misery and misfortune touch every one at some leve, however unfortunate that is.


Tabitha Blake said...

I agree. If your character is too perfect I don't believe it. We all have flaws. A flawed character is real.

Mika said...

Thanks for this post. I learned more about a tortured male here than I did in my last online class! I also appreciate the character chart - good to have.

Tabitha Blake said...

Everything I have learned about writing the tortured hero I have learned through trial and error. I think the more you write the better your characters come across. If you have a good back story then your hero can be fractured and believable. The character chart is an amazing tool and I use it with every book I write. The one I referenced is my favorite. It makes you think of thing that never crossed your mind. It brings life to the character. You will not use all the info but if you hit a point where you aren't sure how they would react it comes in handy. It is nice to know I was able to help. I started out lost and knowing nothing. Now I am giving advice and helping other that have just started their writing career. If you had asked me 4 months ago for advice I would have shrunk away in fear. Learning to write comes with time and lots of practice.

Zee Monodee said...

So true what you say about backstory. Too many writers shun away from it and the end result then is a flat character.

While it's true that you should never dump, each and every character has to have a backstory. No person exists without a past, and a character is essentially a fictionalised person.

Even if you won't use all the info you have compiled in your backstory, like Tabitha said above, it may come in handy to let you know how they will react in a certain situation (especially when combined with a few defining character archetypes.) In your backstory too will be the impact moment that makes your character who he/she is and the basis for their GMC.

Very good post, I loved it!

Tabitha Blake said...

Thanks Z. Back story is so important if you want your character to be more than one dimensional. But you also have to learn how to sprinkle it in here and there, too much all at once is just too much. This can be a hard thing to learn but a very powerful tool once you do. A character with out a back story is just plain boring. Glad you enjoyed it!