I watched a movie the other day with some of my peeps. No, this is not a movie review, but this particular movie got me thinking about writing. What a surprise, right? The movie was a romantic comedy remake of Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol." It was cute, but unremarkable. Now I am usually pretty easily amused, but this movie left me feeling dissatisfied and grumpy. Why? I wondered. And then it hit me, and this is where the writing part comes in. I realized I did not like the ‘hero,’ not at the beginning of the movie or at the end. The guy was attractive, but a real jerk, a play-yah hound dog male hoor. He started out that way and, to my way of thinking, he stayed that way. Oh, sure, the screenwriter tried to redeem him in the last five minutes of the movie. But, it was too little too late, and so the love story did not work for me.
Now, I know what you’re saying. But, Scrooge doesn’t repent until the end of the story, so what’s the diff? I will tell you. The difference is "A Christmas Carol" is not a romance. For a romance to work, you have to believe in the love story, and at the end of this movie I remained unconvinced. Bottom line, the hero was not sufficiently redeemed and/or redeemed too late to invest me in the love story. He was a jerk at the beginning of the movie, and he was still pretty much a jerk at the end of the movie, in my humble opinion.
In Mary Balogh’s historical romance "At Last Comes Love," you are led to believe that Duncan, the hero, is a libertine and a scoundrel of the worst order. Now, having read all of Ms. Balogh’s delightful books, I was introduced to Margaret, the heroine, in two previous romances. Having faith in one of my favorite writers, I knew all could not be as it seemed. I kept moving forward, even though Duncan lacked much to be desired as a hero. Sure enough, midway through the book, the reader learns not only is Duncan not the scoundrel he has been painted, he is a noble, self-sacrificing knight in shining armor, a hero of heroes and an-all-round-swell guy. He is totally redeemed, the love story makes you sigh with envy, both as a woman married to a mere mortal and as a writer, and you completely, absolutely and without a doubt believe in the love story.
So, do our heroes and heroines have to be Pollyanna perfect? Of course not, that would be boring. I love flawed characters. They are interesting. But, at the end of the day, I believe they have to be lovable in order for the reader to become invested in the romance, to believe in their happily-ever-after.