By Kate McMurray
We generally demand a lot from our heroes. We want them to be handsome and brave and smart and kind and everything good that we aspire to be ourselves. But all that awesomeness has a way of rendering the hero superhuman. And, sure, if I were trapped on the roof of a burning building, I would totally want Superman to come rescue me. But as far as a romantic hero goes? Superman is so perfect he’s kind of boring.
Superman’s creators knew he was too perfect, that there was nothing remotely interesting about a hero who would always triumph. There’s no tension in the story if it’s a foregone conclusion that Superman will win. That’s why they introduced kryptonite, something to which the Man of Steel was not impervious. In the real world, each hero has his own kryptonite, a flaw or limitation that keeps him from being perfect, keeps him from getting what he wants And it’s that flaw that makes him all the more interesting.
Let’s take sports heroes, for example. Athletes are often described as heroic: they are in peak physical condition, they have drive enough to be the best at what they do, and the tinkly piano of the personal profiles during the Olympics coverage tells us that they also have dramatic back stories and plenty of heart. And yet basketball player Charles Barkley famously said he wasn’t a role model. Indeed, as often as our sports heroes lift our hearts, they also let us down, be it by breaking down at a crucial moment, by flubbing a play that loses the game, by being caught using performance-enhancing drugs. Athletes are not superhuman, after all, and they succumb to the same pressures the rest of us do: each man struggles with how to keep on top, how to win the race, how to keep the fans on his side. And so he makes hard decisions that we think badly of as we watch from the safety of our sofas, but that a lot of anguish went into making.
In a romance novel, I like a flawed hero. I like to see a man who has the potential to excel but has something keeping him back that he has to overcome. That makes him complicated and interesting, it means he has to make tough choices and figure out problems and triumph over what is holding him back. That makes him human, in other words.♥
Kate McMurray is the author of five novels and a half dozen stories. Her latest, OUT IN THE FIELD, is a romance between two Major League Baseball players. When she’s not writing, Kate is a nonfiction editor. Also, she is crafty (mostly knitting and sewing, but she also wields power tools), she plays the violin, and she dabbles in various other pursuits. She’s maybe a tiny bit obsessed with baseball. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. Visit her at http://www.katemcmurray.com.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Here ends RWA/NYC's Heroes Blog Tour for the month of June. If you've missed any hero, please feel free to go back and visit with each one. They are all worth it! As always, Read Romance.