Friday, February 11, 2011

Characterization and Father Brennan Burke

"Character is plot, plot is character" - F Scott Fitzgerald
In Anne Emery's Collins-Burke mystery series, she's created a larger than life character in Irish Catholic Priest, Brennan Burke. He's the reason I devoured the first four books in the series, staying up until early hours of the morning to finish. He's a very naughty priest - smokes, drinks, swears in a charming Irish brogue, and sometimes falls completely over the edge of acceptable priestly behavior. And he's fascinating. The story is told in first person by lawyer Monty Collins so Burke's character is revealed entirely through dialogue and the view point character's observations.

One of the struggles I have with my current contemporary romance is making the hero stand apart from my previous tall, dark and alpha heroes. Often times I find heroes in romance interchangeable. When an author manages to create a distinct male character it raises a romance above the crowd. I love it. For example Dain in Lord Of Scoundrels is a big, hulking brute of a man who behaves badly. But, oh! the dialogue.

Why do we love some heroes who behave badly but others we shake our heads and wonder what the heroine sees in him? Of course, Dain has a strong heroine to match and Loretta Chase writes with such humor and charm the whole book is delicious from start to finish. And the plot? well it's nothing we haven't read before. It's the characters that make this book one of my favorite romances.

My current hero is Luc Moreau-Grey, son of French actress Lillian Moreau and American Industrialist Andrew Grey. He's rich, sophisticated, and charming. But what makes him stand out from the alpha crowd? Maybe, because he's grown up in the glitz and glamor of a famous family,  he appreciates and values the "real" deal when he sees it? Like our unsophisticated heroine Carly Sorvino? Struggling chef who wears non-slip work shoes instead of expensive stiletto's?

Who are your favorite hero's? What makes them stand out? And do you have any tricks to finding that core that makes a character unique?


Janet said...

Funny, I remember the 'bad' heroes! The ones who don't look like they will ever be able to redeem themselves, but one action at the beginning of the book gives you hope and propels you toward the end and that happily ever after. Linda Howard, Suzanne Brockmann, Susan Elizabeth Phillips - authors who have written such heroes.

I, too, don't enjoy 'cookie-cutter' heroes. Those that are interchangeabe or forgettable. Father Burke sounds like a character not soon forgotten; therefore the book will not soon be forgotten. The sign of a great author, IMO!

Anne MacFarlane said...

Janet, I do love the bad boy hero! And those are three of my favourite authors. I would add Sandra Brown to that list as well, "Play Dirty" has one of the best heroes.

Jennie Marsland said...

I have a soft spot for tortured heroes. One of my favourites is William de Veres in Judith James' Libertine's Kiss. He's tortured, complex,and charming - a wonderful combination.

Michelle Helliwell said...

My favorite heros are often the strong, silent type - Capt Frederick Wentworth, Mr. Darcy, Wulfric Bedwyn. I do like heros that have alot of swagger to mask vulnerabilities as well, like Julia Quinn's Anthony Bridgerton. The two heros I've created thus far are very different creatures, but they are similar in that they have deep-seated fears and vulnerabilities, but they mask them in different ways. Heros have to be 3 dimensional - fully fleshed out characters. That gets me everytime.

Anne MacFarlane said...

Michelle, I think that's my struggle right now, making my hero strong but vulnerable without making him seem weak.