Another good question from Chris:
Are there qualites that HAVE to go into the making of an interesting “hero”, regardless of sex, and are other qualities only needed/appreciated in either sex? And if so, what are they?
I’m going to have to think about this for a bit. If anybody else has a list of non-negotiable qualities for a protagonist regardless of sex, I’d sure like to hear them.
As far as qualities that I’d reserve for one sex over another, nothing comes to mind immediately except the physical dominance points I raised last week. Which doesn’t mean you can’t have a physically strong, very fit female protagonist — that’s one of the things I like about Aeryn Sun. It’s even okay for her to get the better of John now and then in a wrestling match, at least temporarily. This is, of course, my personal preference as far as fictional characters go.
I think a sense of humor is pretty essential. Not that the protagonist has to be wisecracking through his dialog, but he should at least recognize things that are absurd.
to me it seems good to have at least one major flaw in a story hero. A handicap or curse that makes him unable to walk the “straight path”. E.g. give a box champion the fear of killing someone, or give the perfect lover a limping leg….
How about a rock-solid moral core? The hero can (and probably must) have serious flaws and weaknesses, but some fundamental part of the character, even if deeply buried, needs to recognize right from wrong.
But then there’s Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley — does he count as a hero?