Once more, I turn the day over to Kimberly Lang, Modern Heat author!
So you want to write that *other* kind of Presents – a Modern Heat.
Part 2 – Your hero, your heroine, and their baggage.
The most common question I get from folks targeting Modern Heat is “What’s the difference between a Modern hero and a Modern Heat hero?”
Here’s the thing: they’re not *that* different when it comes to Alpha-ness. Alpha is Alpha. Alpha heroes are strong, powerful, and in charge. They make decisions, think on their feet, and problem solve. They’re rich, drop-dead sexy, and great in bed. They know what they want and they expect to get it. That’s an Alpha hero – Modern or Modern Heat.
All Alphas have a sense of entitlement – not necessarily because they’re heirs to the throne or powerful tycoons, but because they lead the pack, by God, and they didn’t fight their way to the top of the food chain to be vegetarians. (So I’m mixing metaphors again. It happens.) The Modern Heat hero can be just as ruthless as his Modern counterpart, but it’s not the default action. If charm or money or something else can get him what he needs, then he’s just as likely to go that route. But don’t underestimate him and don’t try to back him into a corner.
What makes some difference in a Modern Heat hero is the Modern Heat heroine. She’s strong and spunky. She knows what she wants; she has dreams and plans. She may not have the best job – but she might also be top of her field (my current heroine is an heiress in her own right). Her strength and spunkiness will cause her and the hero to clash on many levels – yet they’re going to understand each other at the same time in a way others don’t. Remember yesterday when I told you the guidelines said Modern Heats were full of sass? Meet the sass. She’s going to spar with him verbally, give as good as she gets, and no matter what the situation is, she will always be in it, toe-to-toe with him. It will infuriate the Alpha hero, but he’s going to respect it – however grudgingly.
Beatrice and Benedick from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing are a Modern Heat couple. But then, so are Jane Austen’s Emma and Mr. Knightly. Again, a lot of this is the tone and attitude put in place by the author.
The last thing I want to talk about for the Modern Heat couple is their baggage. Romancelandia, for the most part, is populated by characters carting around so much emotional baggage you sometimes wonder how they function in society. This makes great stories – they have so much to overcome that the emotional payoff is huge. The problem with that, though, is that it’s very difficult for people dragging around one of those enormous steam trunks of emotional baggage to be sparkly, spunky, and sassy. And remember, Modern Heats are all about tone.
This isn’t to say that the Modern Heat couple doesn’t have baggage – they do; it’s just on wheels and they drag it behind them. It’s still baggage, but it’s manageable and often fits in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of them. Like all emotional baggage, it will have to be dealt with – most likely at the worst possible moment. (Think about it this way – you have your emotional baggage safely stored in the overhead bin and you’re riding smoothly along at cruising altitude. Suddenly, you hit major turbulence, causing the bin to fly open and your baggage lands squarely on your head. It then bursts open, dumping everything into your lap and onto the person next to you. You have to try to pick it all up while still wearing your seatbelt. Then you notice that your underwear landed right in the other person’s lap. And it just gets worse from there…)
Through my mixed metaphors and clashing imagery, I hope I’ve made one thing clear for you (even if I did muddy everything else up): Modern Heat isn’t just a Modern that’s been tweaked a little by softening an Alpha or giving your heroine a temper to match her red hair. You have to approach the story from a different perspective entirely, and let that spunky, sparky, sassy, urban and sophisticated attitude drive your characters and their story.
Thanks, Kimberly, for explaining about Modern Heats! Because though I enjoy reading them, I couldn't begin to tell anyone how to write one. It's just not the way my brain works. So, for tomorrow, I'll do a wrap up. I think it can all be dealt with in one post, but if I get wordy, it'll get broken into two with the final one on Friday. In this last post (or two), I'll try and cover those little things I may have missed before.