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March 19, 2009

Negative Traits for Heroes

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Negative Traits For Heroes

I’m pondering book nine in my Middlemarch Mates series and the heroes in particular. Of course, it goes without saying that the heroine will love her two heroes to bits and think they’re the best thing since the invention of sliced bread (maybe even chocolate) but they need to be well-rounded. They need to be human. They need faults along with their positive traits. So, here are thirteen possibles for my heroes.

1. Overbearing.

2. Too flirtatious with other females.

3. Smug or boastful.

4. Too arrogant.

5. Possessive or prone to jealousy.

6. Selfish.

7. Moody – prone to dark moods or temperamental.

8. No sense of humor.

9. Impractical.

10. Manipulative.

11. Impatient.

12. Restless or quickly bored.

13. Fails to plan adequately.

Of course, these traits can be applied to women as well. I could also include things like obsessed with sex, speeds in car, leaves dirty clothes all over the floor, gambles or smokes, swears too much, burps or farts in public, hogs conversation.

Which vices/negative traits do you think are good for heroes in novels and in particular in romances? Do you have more suggestions for me? Do you like heroes to have large faults or do small ones work better for you?


  1. Amy Gallow

    Excesses of virtue work best for me–too chivalrous, too honorable, over intelligent, too practical, too pragmatic, etc., etc., etc.
    The heroine goes from admiring the trait to hating it when it comes between them, or foils her plans.

  2. Scarlett Sanderson

    Number 2 on the list would probably be in my top slot for things I can’t ‘forgive’ in a hero, especially if he’s smug along with it.

    Large faults or little ones? Hmmm. It depends on the story, the hero and the heroine. I always thought I’d hate a hero with large faults, then my WIP hero came along and some of his faults seem irredeemable.

  3. Ms Menozzi

    I love that you’re willing to list the potential faults of your characters – and that you’re also willing to foist some of those faults on the heroines in equal measure!

    I like reading characters who are well-rounded and have a realistic humanity to them. The cookie-cutter perfection of years past really got old in a hurry, ya know?

    Happy TT!

  4. Adelle Laudan

    FOr me, there’s no bigger turn off than an arrogant man. Thank God I’m allergic lol

    Happy T13!

  5. Stephanie Adkins

    Yep yep … I couldn’t agree with you more, Shelley! :) Great list! *HUGS*

  6. Alice Audrey

    The fault has to be large or the character growth in the story won’t be adequate. Seems like most books I read go for the overbearing hero. It works well because it can be well meaning.

  7. Roberta Harwell

    I enjoy the arrogant, overbearing, and the hero who has a problem with the feminist movement. I love to hate the hero. In the end if the writer portrays the hero correctly you fall in love with his faults and him. Have a great day.

  8. Amy Ruttan

    I love the arrogant man. Like Mr. Darcy before he changed in Pride and Prejudice. How when he first proposed to Elizabeth he said “Against my better judgment I find myself in love with you.”

    His sexual attraction was so strong it went against his pride for social standing.

    Love those broody men. *sigh*

  9. Amy Ruttan

    Oh I like tortured. The hero in Book 3 of my Enchantress series is seriously tortured. The book wiped me emotionally and I’m just recovering but I lurved torturing him.

  10. AJ

    I like heroes who are a little broody and tortured – makes them seem more real.

  11. Karen Erickson

    I’m going to agree with Amy – I love a tortured hero. I also love an arrogant hero, brought to his knees by the heroine. Yummy…

    Love the list!

  12. Jennifer McKenzie

    I’m with Amy. Excesses of virtue is usually my way to go. Except for one hero who was a villain that was redeemed.
    Most of the time my heroes fall into the role of “too protective” which drives my very capable heroines nuts. LOL.

  13. jamiebabette

    Some of my heroes have a problem with being obstinate, unbending in adherence to ideals/goals. Naturally, it’s fun to push them way past their breaking point.

  14. Heather

    It’s always fun watching an arrogant man “fall.” Great list, Shelley!

  15. Fedora

    LOL! I think the least forgivable is unwillingness to admit wrong and unwillingness to change–maybe that’s the same as stubborn? Because at times, we’re probably all of those things, but if you can admit when you’re wrong and are willing to try to change, then OK, I’m all for second chances :)

    I think what I do find incredibly annoying in heroes and heroines is that stubbornness that leads them to be TSTL… that’s a terrible, terrible thing!

  16. Gabriele

    Tight with money would be a deal breaker for me. I love my men generous.

    Of course, I can’t stand the whole array of alpha-jerkishness, either, and that’s a very fine line to thread between alpha and jerk. :wink:

  17. Paige Tyler

    I prefer the heroes in my books to have small faults, and they can’t be anything I wouldn’t forgive them for! Like being overly flirtatious with other women after he hooks up with the heroine. That’d be a deal breaker!


    My TT is at http://tinyurl.com/4zejcp

  18. Susan Helene Gottfried

    I am very impressed that you can plug traits into a character like that. Every time I try, the character winds up morphing into something of his/her own, something I hadn’t intended.

  19. Lanie Fuller

    That’s a tough one. I’d rather have a lot of little faults than a few huge ones, you know what I mean? But, then again, as long as there’s a good reason for the big fault and the hero works on it, then it’s better (IMO). But I can’t stand an alpha alpha male, or one who is so arrogant you constantly want to club him with the heaviest object available.

    I don’t mind moody or a little overbearing. I’ve been trying to think of something to add to the list, but I’m coming up blank, LOL.

  20. Nancy Henderson

    Manipulative is the worst. Even if he’s trying to help the heroine in some way by being manipulative.

  21. Barbara Martin

    A trait I could add which could be used either way: secrets.

  22. DrillerAA

    Failing to plan adequately always puts the hero in the position of having to go to plan B, assuming he has a plan B.

  23. Janice~

    Two of my heroes were very jealous, and another one teased too much which put the heroine on edge.:roll:

    I also had one who chased the heroine by phone, trying to date her, but kept getting everyone else but her for days. She wasn’t avoiding him, she was just busy. He got frustrated but kept trying.

    He finally caught up with her when she got sick and was in the hospital.:razz:


  24. Shelley Munro

    Some interesting comments today on character flaws. I like the idea of giving a character an excess of a virtue. I think flaws are a delicate balance, a little like seasoning. Too much and it’s overwhelming and the characters can’t redeem themselves. Too little and the characters are bland and wishy washy.

  25. Rikki

    I like heroes that are overbearing, arroganr, possessive, moody. All others would be a turn off for me (esp. manipulative or no sense of humor). I think there is way too little laughter in romance.