I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off this morning. Between Christmas parties at my kids’ school and my ass-kickin’ P90X routine (60 min every morning), and shopping, and laundry, etc etc etc, I haven’t had time to breathe…until now…and it’s almost lunch.
BUT I was overjoyed to see some of you liked my post on Gothic Heroes the other day and wanted more!
So, how does one go about matching a heroine to these dark bad boys?
You have to know the factor that hooks the reader to the Gothic Hero in the first place. Readers need to feel that urge to find out how he will be redeemed. Throughout the book there should be doubt, uncertainty, his spirit tainted, redemption out of reach…but eventually he finds his saving grace IN HER. THE HEROINE IS HIS GREATEST FLAW. SHE IS HIS WEAKNESS. Whether or not he is good for her, he can’t seem to pull himself away. Only through HER LIGHT AND LOVE does he come around.
Think Twilight’s Edward Cullen and Bella Swan.
He believes his soul is damned. He knows if he gets too close to her, he’ll hurt her. But despite himself he can’t stay away. Through her love for him, through her innocent eyes, he begins to see the good person she sees instead of the monster staring back at him in the mirror.
To match the Gothic Hero, heroines must be
and at times, defiant of him or his overbearing rules.
Above all that, the ONE THING she must be is unambiguous. She has to have strong moral compass.
Because the reader is focused on the moral ambiguity of the hero. The reader is confused by him and how he will be redeemed in the end. The reader, then, should be rooted in his counterpart. Her moral code must come out first and not deviate. She should be secure in her beliefs to lead him to his retribution.
Think Annakin Skywalker and Padme:
If you think back to the Star Wars movie, you’ll remember that her will, her moral compass, never wavers. She is his soundboard. She is his strength, his rock, trying to guide him in the right direction. She is a heroine in her own right: strong, cunning, intelligent.
Side note: The Gothic Hero’s love interest must give a little at the beginning of their relationship. Remember your hero. Put yourself in his shoes. If she gave little understanding and very little empathy, the Gothic Hero would be just as likely to walk away and never look back as he would to kiss her. So be sure not to make your heroine too rough and too mouthy. The key is complement, not repellent.
In Batman Begins, Rachel Dawes (the Assistant DA of Gotham who fights crime the legal way) balances out Bruce Wayne’s Batman persona (who fights crime his way). Could they have chosen a better heroine for that hero? I think not.
She sees a redeemable quality in Bruce Wayne, the tortured boy who saw his parents murdered. She sees the sensitive, love-worthy man behind the caped vigilante.
Her strong moral fiber eventually leads to her demise (sorry for the spoiler if you haven’t seen The Dark Knight) and spirals an already angry Batman deeper down the rabbit hole. (But for the series, the writers needed to keep him dark and angry, remember?)
Of course there are going to be variations to the heroines who balance out these bad boys. Of course there are going to be instances where the perfect complement to the Gothic Hero you’ve written is a Gothic Chick who needs to be redeemed herself. But this is the framework from which to build your Gothic characters.