Monday, 11 May 2009

A heroic profession


My hero in my NWS ms was a politician. The NWS report suggested that this choice might cause problems, not necessarily, but it would make the story a bit of a hard sell to an editor. She said that because of public perceptions about politicians I would have to make Daniel extra heroic and enhance the qualities that showed he was different.
Her points backed up the comments Sharon Kendrick made at her Women In Publishing Talk - the professions you choose for your hero and heroine do matter. Yes, you can buck the trends but you're going to have a hard job selling the idea to your editor and is this really a risk you want to take if you're not yet published?
I can see I went about my approach a bit wrong. You see I thought I'd like to write a Marriage of Convenience and then tried to think of a real life, modern situation where this might actually happen. Politicians are certainly alpha but rarely considered sympathetic so I already had an uphill struggle on my hands.
I was reminded of this again this morning by a post from Kate Walker about what your alpha hero does for a living. It was interesting to note Jenny Hutton's advice about heroes for the Modern Heat series on the the new M&B community thread, perhaps this marks a slight departure for the MH series from the traditional Modern - that success without wealth is enough for a MH hero?

Are there any professions that instantly put you off? Or would pre-dispose you to like the character in question?

8 comments:

Rachael Johns said...

Ain't it tricky choosing character professions? Personally I'd prefer a little more range in heroes... but who am I to know anything :)

Joanne Cleary said...

I can't think of any that would really put me off. Ones I really like are 'hero' types -- firemen, police, doctors, armed forces. Mmm, I spot a pattern. Perhaps I just like men in uniforms :-)

Unfortunately Presents/MH don't really 'do' these professions. I spent time over lunch today toying with a series about firefighters in Australia. *sigh*

Suzanne said...

Oh, so much to think about... Have to admit that I've been a bit lazy about occupations and have used hazy descriptions of self-made billionaires - which probably explains why I'm still unpublished.

:-(

Lucy King said...

My last hero was a fund manager. The current one is a venture capitalist. Hmm. Bit of a City theme going on there. Great timing!

In the stories I've written so far, the hero's occupation isn't really important, but tends to reflect/define his character. And of course has made him a millionaire ;)

Jackie Ashenden said...

Yep, city jobs for my heroes too. Except one of my WIPs where my hero is a climber - and yes, it IS a profession!
I don't think there's any profession that's a turn-off for me...um...as long as the hero is hot...;-) Oh wait, maybe if he worked at McDonalds or was a supermarket bag packer then he wouldn't be as cool.

Lacey Devlin said...

Tricky, tricky. A politician sounds intriguing. I've come across mayors in the past and I can see how it would be difficult to sell. I’m quite happy with any profession but it’s always great to come across something new and learn a bit about it during the course of the story :)

Romy said...

The one type of politician who might be more sympathetic is the wealthy crusader. Someone who is doing it because he believes in a noble cause. Think Al Gore and his fight against global warming.

Perhaps if your hero had inherited money and wants to use it to make the world a better place, rather than simply making more money for himself, then he wouldn't be tarnished with all the corruption and greed we think of when we think 'politics'.

Lorraine said...

Rachael - I prefer a range too but I'm not sure I want to take too much of a risk to begin with.

Jo - I think Trish Wylie had a fireman hero in a MH so it can be done!

Suzanne - I wouldn't worry too much, I think the character is more important and if you're sticking within the usual trends then you're doing something right!

Lucy - It will be interesting to see if the crisis shapes the kind of heroes readers want to read about. Kate Walker makes a good point about some of the 'usual' professions not providing the security they used to. I'm sure your heroes will weather the storm, anyway.

Jackie - Mm, can't see an alpha working in McDonalds, no :-)

Lacey - Until Sharon's talk I hadn't really thought about the profession being important, just the character. But now I realise that my choice of EVERYTHING is important. So, no pressure then :-)

Romy - Yes, I think you're right. Need to remember to make my hero heroic and not just alpha!