We know we shouldn’t compare our writing and skills to anyone else, we are only in competition with our self, improving how we write now from how we wrote a year ago. But I think it might be fun to compare a modern romance hero to the pattern card of Mr. FitzWilliam Darcy. Of course, you can do a comparison of your own ideal hero, but I will go with Darcy for argument’s sake.
Physical differences are not really important here. Heroes can be dark or blond, blue eyed or brown. They must be tall. Really, that’s a requirement. Lawrence Olivier was 5’10”, Colin Firth is 6′ 2”, Matthew McFayden is 6’3”, Patrick McNee was 5’11”. So Darcy has always been portrayed as on the tall side. Quote Mrs. Bennett: “[S]o handsome! so tall!”
Heros must be rich. No wrench monkeys or pizza delivery boys. Billionaires sell romances, even though there is a backlash now against that cliché. I don’t think it will last very long. Cinderella is alive and well in modern romance readers’ hearts. Darcy had an income that would “Figure him as a thirty-year-old retired dot-com millionaire with wealth of $150 million or so…” http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2007/03/how_rich_is_fit.html
Darcy also owns beautiful, extensive, and pricey properties, both in Town and in the country. And he inherited everything so he doesn’t have to work. He can hunt or go to house parties, or spend time at balls snubbing the wallflowers. Of course, he will need to make that up somehow. Heroes that I have read of in the romances being written these days may be wealthy, may have inherited money and property, but still they wish to work. Occasionally the money is tied up so he has to work. Or he has to marry before the money is his.
These days series are enjoyable, but it means the hero has to have good friends or coworkers or relatives who will come back later for a shot at a happy ever after. No way would the friend, let’s say, meet a girl at the same time as the hero and wed her by the end of the hero’s story. It just isn’t done. Mr. Bingley should have waited and courted Jane in her own book! Lydia, well, what can one say about that Bennett sister.
Finally, Mr. Darcy is an orphan, and has shared guardianship of his younger sister. He has been such an excellent guardian for her that he obviously will be a father of wonderful talents some day. Most modern heroes also are good father material. Some even come equipped with kids from a previous relationship.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.