Wednesday, April 4, 2012

When should the hero walk through the door?

There was a discussion on an e-loop some time ago that I'm apart of, debating when a hero should make an appearance in a story. Hmmm. Good question.

For me, because I write single title, my hero sometimes doesn't show up for two or three chapters. And contemporary writer friends have mentioned, for their market, the hero needs to be there from the get go.

Now, this is all very well, but I read a book some weeks back, (a medieval romance) and it had me confused. Very confused.

The hero, and I'm not exaggerating, appeared for the first time on page 231 (chapter ten!) after the heroine had already married twice and both husbands had died.

Don't get me wrong, I liked the book and finished it, but the second husband seemed really nice and I could see the relationship (if the author allowed) could blossom into a romance of the greatest kind. But oh no dear reader. Don't get too comfortable with him, the author thought.
And I started to wonder if this would happen again? Well, I actually prayed it wouldn't. I mean, how many men were we going to get to know in this book? Would the bride out-live this husband too?  :o And to top it all off, the man she does love and 'IS' the hero, is very unlikable. And of course by this time, being near the end of the book, he didn't have very long to redeem himself. ARGH
It was all very confusing and I'm still (obviously I'm writing about it) confused by the novel.

So, when do your hero's enter the stories you write. From the get go? Or chapter ten? Or, for the readers out there, when do you like to see the hero appear in the books you buy? For me, I don't mind holding out a chapter or two, any more than that and I start to get impatient.

Happy reading and writing everyone.
Note: This post first appeared Oct 2010 @


Anonymous said...

Well, not at chapter 10. However, I think sometimes we need to get fully into the heroine's life and circumstances before the hero appears. Other times he has to be there from the first sentence. I dislike hard and fast rules such as they must meet within the first twenty pages. Still, he probably should make an appearance by chapter 3.

Ella Quinn said...

Sometimes my heros show up right away, sometimes not until page 40. It depends on the story. There are some small publishers though that require the H/H to meet within the first five pages.

Suzi said...

I love heroes!
So I like to see them in the story very close to the beginning and watch the relationship develop through the whole book.
Far too frustrating to wait for the third man mentioned to become the hero I can fall in love with.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty hero-centric, so he often gets the opening scene. My editor wants to see him by page 5, but in extreme situations, he can lurk until page 10. I think she's right. It's a ROMANCE, so there's no point in keeping the heroic powder dry.

Maggi Andersen said...

I like reading in the male pov, so in the first chapter definitely!

Alison Stuart said...

I know we all shudder at the mention of "rules" for romance writing but the one fundamental rule is that the book is about the relationship between the hero and the heroine. How can that relationship possibly unfold for the reader if the hero doesn't walk in until half way through the story? Personally I think we have to have met both characters by the end of chapter 2 at the latest.
If you think of the relationship as an arc across the can it possibly work if the two characters are not there from the beginning?

PrincessFiona01 said...

There was a discussion about this somewhere a while back about how the hero needs to show up right away practically in the first page in category romance. Naturally being contrary I immediately started to write a story where you don't see the hero until chapter two. I did let someone talk about him in chapter one though...

Cassandra Dean said...

For me, both hero and heroine should be introduced in the first two chapters. I think romances are about the relationship between those two people, so why would I want to read four or five chapters where only one of the h/h show up?

In books where the romance is a sub-plot, you can totes delay the introduction of the hero/heroine, but in a romance, I want those babies front and centre!

Cassandra Samuels said...

This is a hard one isn't it? It used to be all about the heroine. The hero POV wasn't so important and could get away with coming in later but now... it is about both their journeys.

So, yes the reader now wants to have both hero and heroine present and together asap. I wouldn't wait too long unless absolutely necessary to the story in which case the reader would no doubt allow his absence for a while.

Anonymous said...

A good topic Tam,
In MHO whether or not the Hero and Heroine actually meet or interact in the first chapter or two has to be up to the author and the story, but I certainly feel there should be at least 'some' reference to either / both and where they fit within the story fairly quickly.

I feel that is not too hard to work into a plot.
But definitely a show of main characters by the third chapter, as most people seem to agree with.

MY current WIP has the Heroine lining up a rendezvous with a secondary character who wont be alive by the end of chapter one, so I have made certain the Hero's POV is definitely part of the first chapter, with the Heroine in his direct path.

Allison Butler said...

Hi Tam,
Great post! Sorry I'm late.
I do think it depends on the story, but as I LOVE heroes, I prefer them to show up ASAP.

I find it easier to write from my hero's POV so often start chapter one with them and have the heroine appear within the first five to ten pages.

Allison Butler said...

Oops! If not sooner:)