what a girl wants in a fictional hero

I’ve come up with a preliminary set of characteristics that my list of seven male characters share, to some degree.

self-possessed These guys are at ease in their skins, confident of their own strengths, and unapologetic about them. The flip side of that is that too much self-possession can sometimes come across as conceit and general bloody-mindedness. Darcy, of course, takes the snobbery prize, but he does better himself by the end of the novel, for love of Elizabeth Bennett. Of the others, Phin Tucker verges on the high handed (Sophie loves movies, which he barely tolerates; he reads). Niccolo is extremely self-possessed and becomes dangerously more so as time goes on, but he manages to hide whatever conceit he has, out of necessity. Very rarely do you get a flash of it. For all these men, a dash of humility is needed to balance out this strength, and that lack is sometimes the character’s biggest flaw.

highly intelligent I’ve got a wide range on this list, from a hunter/trapper to an aerospace scientist, but they are all extremely intelligent men, able to problem solve and to think conceptually.

quiet competence All of My Seven are really good at what they do. Each of them steps in and gets things done, as needed, but all of them are modest or even retiring when it comes to taking credit. All of them rise to a challenge; all of them are natural born leaders, although some of them prefer solitude. This could turn into an inability or unwillingness to ask for help (or directions), and sometimes, impatience.

physically dominant This struck me as interesting: all but two of these men are trained to fight, as soldiers, and do well for themselves on the battlefield. Of the two who are not (Darcy and Phin Tucker), I can easily imagine them in such roles. I suppose the simple answer here is that they are all alpha males, but there’s something else going on I haven’t figured out yet.

playfulness Playfulness, as has been noted elsewhere in this blog, is what feeds attraction. My Seven can be deadly serious in confrontational situations, but they all know how to be playful, or at least, there’s the intimation that they do. We see this least from Darcy, though we get hints, through Bingley, that’s he’s capable of lightheartedness. The other six have all demonstrated excellence in this particular area. The lack of playfulness is what keeps many hard-boiled detective types off my list. I haven’t included (although I did think about) Bob Lee or Earl Swagger (Stephen Hunter’s characters); Joe Kurtz (Dan Simmon’s character) or Jack Reacher (Lee Child’s character).

Finally, they all like dogs. Don’t ask me how I know this in some cases, but I do. Every one of them really, really likes dogs, and is kind to old people and understands how to talk to kids.