Constructing the Perfect Man- Occupational Hazards

Time for another installment of Constructing the Perfect Man. 

Remember, we are talking about creating a hero that readers will love– one that reaches out of the pages of the novel and grips the hearts of readers. We authors want our readers to fall in love. And that’s why I need your input, readers.

So today I want to discuss the job of our hero.

Let’s generalize the occupations of the cliche romance novel hero. He’s usually “rugged,” which involves working with his hands or being employed in a “dangerous” profession.

The farmer. The cattle driver. The athlete. The firefighter. The warrior. For historicals, there’s an overflow of knights, soldiers, and wealthy aristocrats with nothing else to do but seek adventure.

These “rugged”, hard labor jobs are appealing to most female readers. But not all.

But what if the leading man was a dancer? Or a chef? Or a teacher?

The teacher poses an interesting occupation for a leading man because there’s a marked difference in the perception of the personality of the character (and sometimes even the physical traits) if he’s a college professor, high school teacher, or elementary teacher.

For example, the college professor should probably be more serious, right? And the high school teacher can get away with being the “funny man.” But if our guy is an elementary teacher he had better be compassionate, kind, and even (dare I say it?) in touch with his feminine side occasionally.

The occupation of our hero (and heroine) can push the story forward, and sometimes drive the story all together.  Because of this, let’s pretend that the occupation of the hero has nothing to do with the story itself, just so that you can attempt to be impartial.

Think about it this way– what occupations do you find attractive for a leading man?

Do you prefer a hero who’s in an exciting job, like the CIA agent or the war correspondent journalist, or something more earthy like a farmer or rancher?  What about the guy who works with his hands, like a carpenter or artist, versus the office guy who might work on computer systems, etc? Or do you like the paranormal dude- the vampire, werewolf, wizard kind of guy?

All this leads me to my next question in this series and it’s all about the occupation of our man. 

Share with Me: Do you prefer a hero who is more or less like your real-life with his occupation? What occupations do you prefer your leading man to have? Can you find excitement in a story about an insurance agent as easily as you can a CIA agent? What one occupation would immediately kill an interest you could potentially have in a hero?


Filed under Writing

11 responses to “Constructing the Perfect Man- Occupational Hazards

  1. Hi, Jennifer! What a fun post! Let's see what I can do with these questions. :)Q1: My husband is my real-life hero! His job is very physical and hands on. I definitely think my fictional characters lean in that direction when I choose their occupation.Q2: I tend to prefer more common jobs for my leading man. I love to see normal people become heroes. It just seems more inspiring and relatable.Q3: Yes, I think a good writer could make an insurance agent very exciting! And, it wouldn't be as overused as the CIA agent. :)Q4: Gigolo. That would nullify any potential on the spot. Nothing kills my interest in a hero as fast as too much "experience".Well, there you go! Have a great day! 😀

  2. I like all kinds of jobs from my heroes- to me it's more about their inner strength that makes them a hero. Now I'm inspired to try and see if I can take a different job and make it work for a hero!

  3. Sarah- loved your responses! Thanks! 🙂 I agree- gigolo is definitely a no-go.Alica- thanks for your comment! I'm glad you have inspiration. I'd love to read what you come up with! I like relateable, everyday heroes, too. But I'm not gonna lie, a little "adventure" every once in awhile is a fun read! 🙂

  4. While I think my husband is amazing, I have to admit that picking up a book to read about a love story where the leading man is a retail manager in a big box store would not sound like a page turner to me! However, I guess it could since that is my husband's job but I don't think it makes the top of the list for most women's "dream guy". I tend to think of ranchers/cowboys for my leading man. I'm not into pretty boys unless they can put on a suit and pull off a cowboy hat too, now there's a great leading man. 🙂 I'm all about music too and think a story where a guy was a singer of some kind and played a guitar would be awesome! As far as an occupation that would kill it for me, I would have to say probably a dancer. I want the leading man to be very masculine and don't want any hint of femininity. I'm also not into a comedian. I like for a man to be witty but not constantly cracking jokes, there has to be a serious side for sure.

  5. Ok, so this is not exactly what you asked, but it is something that drives me nuts when I am reading, so thought I would throw it out there. To me, the job is not nearly as important as making sure that the job description is accurate. If your hero is a police officer, make sure that the things you are having them do at work fall under the law enforcement realm, for example. It drives me crazy for an author to not have done their "homework" and researched proper terms, sayings, or work related duties. Recently I read a book by Jodi Piccoult where she referenced a medical doctor who was her adviser on the book, and that really let me know that she cared if her terminology and such was correct. Sorry that was not at all what you were asking, but that is the way my mind is working this morning! ;)~Mollie

  6. Mollie- you make an exceptionally fantastic point. It takes the reader right out of the story for the details to be incorrect, no matter the occupation.I do the same thing when I'm reading and a historical detail is incorrect. It drives me nuts. Sometimes it can ruin a good story!

  7. Lauren- love your thoughts. Funny how the men we love in real life often are not like the ones we might like to read about! Sounds like you like the "rugged" man for sure. 🙂

  8. I love my husband, but I also love creating characters, so my guys are almost always people outside my comfort zone. I have to do some research on their occupations, but that's fun. And they're far from perfect. The best characters are the ones that are good but have that dark torment within them. I strive for that:)

  9. You know….I've never really thought about this. The occupation of the hero. I've written a farmer, a project manager, a high school guidance counselor, family and marriage therapist….and get this….a once-successful-fashion-photographer-turned-church-maintenance-guy. When it comes to occupation – I'm up for anything. 🙂

  10. I read way too many Bronte novel growing up, so I have a huge love for brooding silent types who secretly harbor a tender heart within. Lately, though, I've been trying to tweak the heroes that I write to make them a little less like Rochester carbon-copies. I find that I really like contradictions: the warrior who is also a poet and artist, and is rather sensitive; the gardener with an inner nobility; the stern police detective who is driven by a belief in justice.I love this series of posts that you're doing!

  11. Katie- I tend be up for a bit of anything, too. It all depends on the story and the necessity of it. But it occurred to me as I was watching SYTYCD that some occupations are considered "feminine" (like a dancer) right off the bat. But in the right story, it could work!Jamila- I love your response! 🙂 Thanks for the comment. I think this series is fun, too!

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