I was working at a coffee shop recently with a fellow writer. A young man, who was trying to flirt with my fellow writer, asked what we were working on that morning and the conversation lead to us being romance writers. And he said something, between the overt attempts to get my friend to pay attention to him, like wouldn’t it be nice if romances happen like that in the real world. And I, being the curious one, asked why can't they? What is stopping us from making the grand gesture that we love to read about in books?
He, of course, looked at me like I was crazy and hid back behind his laptop. This guy wasn’t ready to make the gesture and didn’t ask my fellow writer for her number.
But why not? Because he was scared of rejection? Because he was way too busy listening to his Pandora rock mix? Nope. He probably just wasn’t ready to be a hero yet.
Last month in her blog post, Pamela Palmer got me thinking about heroes when she said that “the true mark of character is revealed in how a person lives their life every single day.” She also pointed out that every-day people are presented a choice, and its that choice that creates a hero. In a romance novel, our heroes and heroines usually have to overcome some internal or external fear in order to be even considered heroic when they make their choice. Doing something (making that choice) in the face of fear is courage and courage makes a hero.
But there is also a notion of timing. I like the cookie dough theory from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. People are ready to make the big choices when they are ready, not a moment before and not a moment after. Think: Would Mr. Darcy have been able to brood his way into Elizabeth Bennett’s heart if he was still in university? Nope. (Bet he was still pretty cute though)
So to be a hero, you need to be the right person to make the right choice at the right time.
I like to think the young man in the coffee shop was still a little cookie dough and not quite ready to take on the mantle of hero. I believe romantic heroes are out there in the real world just waiting for their moment to ask the right girl in the right coffee shop for her number at the right time.
My New Year's Resolution: Be more Heroic. Get over my fears and make the choices, the ones that really matter, to me and to other people. If nothing else, I need to set an example for the new Little Bean in my life.
Author of Diaries of an Urban Panther