Monday, January 24, 2011

The Sexy Tortured Hero

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


Ash said...

I too love a tortured hero!! I find it so fascinating to be writing about fallen angels and demons. Your story sounds like one I would want to read (and I hope to get to do that someday soon!)
Thank you for revealing more of your story and the tips you shared.

Trish said...

Tortured heroes are my favorite. lol

And your hero sounds like a very tortured one. In my first book, my hero was very dark, very tortured. But the heroes in the new series aren't in the slightest. Tortured heroes I have found, take a lot of emotional intensity to write. Which gets very draining.

Sheri Fredricks said...

Hi Tabby~ Thanks for your links. I like the character chart. Tortured heroes...sigh. So attractive, not so easy for me to write. I catch myself wanting to write them all better. Must be the nurturer in me. Your post is very educational and I'll need to review it a few times when I go for my final draft. Great job!

Brenda said...

Ahhh, the totured hero. Nothing sexier than a guy trying to bury the wounds and mistakes of his past. I love reading about a guy who tries his damndest to keep his feelings shoved down in that deep dank part of his soul, but as his love for the heroine grows, he finds that harder and harder to do.
Great post!

Jenna said...

I haven't written any tortured heros yet, though I have outlines for some I hope to get to someday. It sounds like a draining experience. I'd hate to make anybody miserable! But it also sounds rewarding. I too like to find pictures of what I envision my heros look like. It always helps me to have a strong visual.
Excellent post!

Tabitha Blake said...

Yeah, it is tough to write the tortured hero but I love it. It can be a little draining at times but so much more fulfilling when it is all done. I feel Craigen's pain and it pushes me to get to the end to give him his HEA. Poor guy really deserves that happy ending. I tend to push my characters hard and close to the breaking point but I always have a good reason for it. In the end it all comes out and you really start to understand how my characters tick. There are times you will laugh, cry and be angry at my characters. If I have accomplished that then I have done my job as a writer.

Lisa Kumar said...

I love the tortured hero, but haven't written one. Not sure if I could pull one off yet. Great post!

Tabitha Blake said...

It takes a lot of back story to write the tortured hero. You don't have to use it all but you need to know the whole story that way you know why he acts the way he does. He needs some deep seeded issues. But in the end when he gets his HEA it is so fulfilling.

J.Rose Allister said...

I love tortured heroes, too. Give me a hot mess and then torture the poor hottie even more and I'm there! But yes, he should get SOME sort of payoff at the end, of I just feel too darn bad about seeing him get kicked around.

Zee Monodee said...

I love writing tortured characters. Sometimes mine is the hero, or the heroine too. There's this 'perfect' balance that you need to find between the H/h when one is tortured that appeals to me, this fulfilment of why these two have to be together.

Great tips, Tabby! Loved the post

Tabitha Blake said...

I think tortured characters come across as real. If your characters are too perfect they fall flat. Glad you all enjoyed the post.

Welcome to My Thoughts said...

i want to read your book. i'm trying to work on a troubled protaganist without killing the reader with backstory. love the darkness, tho. swimming in it.