Ah, the wounded hero—one of my favorite sub-archetypes—vulnerable, yet fierce. It can be one of the hardest to write, however. You want the character to be damaged enough to qualify, yet likable enough for the reader to root for him.
It may be a double standard, but the wounded heroine is not nearly as difficult. I find that people will automatically root for her. It’s almost like it’s more acceptable for a woman to have problems and be vulnerable than it is for a man. But that’s too easy.
All of my characters have a certain amount of emotional baggage—have had to go through struggles just to get where they are—but my current wounded hero, Matthieu, takes the cake. You’ll hear about him first in Fire On The Island, and you’ll meet him briefly in Blood In The Valley, so you’ll have an idea of just how messed up he is.
But folks, you ain’t seen nothing yet. He’s certainly giving me a run for my money just writing about him.
Personally, I have a lot of interest in the moral and mental struggle of a wounded hero. I always love to see how an author can turn it around. Like Larissa Ione’s Reseph (Pestilence, the 4th horseman)—if you’ve read the Lords of Deliverance series, you’ll know that Pestilence is one evil dude, but I find myself counting the days until his book is released so that I can see how she’s going to “save” Reseph.
So what makes a wounded hero such a good character? Is it our nature to want to see the best in people, to see someone who’s been hurt or damaged get a second chance? Or do you prefer an easy, alpha-male, perfect hero? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments! Who knows, maybe it will help me in the taming of Matthieu.