I like writing characters that are both strong and vulnerable. I like the juxtaposition of frailty and strength within the human psyche. A super strong main character (MC) can fight the battle and kick serious ass, then afterwards fall down and cry – not broken, but nearly. That makes them feel more real to me, more human (even if they aren’t completely).
We all know one of my fav’s is Gwin. As a vampire she had both qualities in spades… along with a little psycho. Since becoming human, she’s lost some of her psycho and straddled that line between strength and fragility. She wants desperately to be loved and cared for, but she has a momentous need to be seen as the tough, invincible bass ass that she is. I tried to show this in her history in Blood Pact (The prequels – out in September). Where she comes from and why she has these two conflicting characteristics are, hopefully, evident.
As much as I love to see this in a strong female role, I love it even more when the guys have it. The man is supposed to be all strength… maybe the females are supposed to be all vulnerable. But, crossing these lines is intriguing. I’m working on a new story line about a psychic demon-hunting detective and her male handler. These two MCs have the strength/vulnerability paradigm in spades. Pepper is a hardened ex-prostitute that has been trained to use her abilities to find and fight supernatural bad guys (a.k.a. demons). She is 95% bad ass. She’ll kill you and take your name afterward… but that extra 5% is ready to crumble at the tender touch of a compassionate lover. Her handler Brad is the son of a high ranking official in “The Company,” which is the organization they work for that is committed to keeping the earth dimension free of baddies – or are they? Brad is a softy… well 80% lovable and gentle… but he’s got some strength in the other 20% and that strength keeps him from going all gooey around Pepper. He learns quickly to put up his walls, because even though he loves her, he knows she’ll break his heart. Yes, I’m having a lot of fun with these two and hope you’ll be seeing them by year end! (Watch for the Adventures of Pepper Chance!)
I’ve seen a lot of this in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward. She writes the biggest, hard-hitting, dangerous vampires that melt to nothing with horrible insecurity in the face of their women (shellans in BDB-speak). It’s inspiring, truly! If you haven’t read any this series – oh, you really should!! Here’s the link to Amazon (Dark Lover is the first book):
I mention J.R. Ward’s books because one of the best ways to learn about writing is to study the work of writers that you admire. I think I’ve learned a lot about foiling these characteristics from this book series. I also enjoyed reading them – some of them twice! My favorite MC from this series is Quinn. He has a lot of contradictory characteristics. His bravery and strength is commendable, yet he finds it impossible to show his true feelings to the point of making his life miserable. It isn’t until he finally allows himself that vulnerability that he finds he can have his HEA (Happy-ever-after). So – redemption through frailty, yet he never loses his strength (and bad-assidness) for a minute. That makes him so interesting to me.
I’m having fun with these ever shifting paradigms! Now back to work…