Holding Out For A Hero

I love renegades. In movies, in books, in songs. The underdog who goes against impossible odds to save the world, save the day, save the girl (or guy). Heck, I even like the renegade who isn’t saving anything but the high school prom, and that’s saying something since my prom experiences were just plain embarrassing.

To borrow the words of Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out For A Hero, he’s gotta be strong, and he’s gotta be fast, and he’s gotta be fresh from the fight.

Whenever I hear that song, I think of Sam and Dean on Supernatural. (Yeah, I know it’s a Footloose song, but I’ll get to that in a minute.) Bigger than life characters with a heart of gold, giving everything they’ve got, even though they don’t stand a chance in Hades of beating the bad guys, or in this case demons. Love ’em.

On the other end of the spectrum are the renegades like Kevin Bacon’s character Ren McCormack in Footloose. He’s just your average guy – albeit he can dance like the devil – fighting against nothing more than the town’s ban on music and dancing. He takes on the local preacher and town council, causing his peers to rebel and getting himself into some nasty fights. Still in the end, if he fails, the worst that will happen is no dance. Fighting repression and standing up for freedom of expression, however, is something many of us relate to. We like to cheer for those who speak out against intolerance.

I like to write renegades too. Discovering what makes them tick is fun, but it can be tricky to write a renegade and still make him sympathetic. He’s breaking the rules and sometimes he’s unlikable, plain and simple. How does an author make readers fall in love with a renegade? I always give my renegades a moral dilemma and try to base their going-against-the-system actions in plain, old fashioned love. Like Bonnie mentioned in her Hero song, it’s gonna take a superman to sweep any of us off our feet. Creating a bad boy isn’t enough. He has to have some pretty convincing redeeming qualities.

So tell me, is there a renegade you love, be it in books, movies or music? What makes him a hero in your opinion?

About Misty Evans

USA Today Bestselling Author Misty Evans writes the award-winning Super Agent series, as well as urban fantasy and paranormal romance. She likes her coffee black, her conspiracy theories juicy, and her wicked characters dressed in couture. When her muse lets her on the internet to play, she’s on Facebook and Twitter.
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17 Responses to Holding Out For A Hero

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    My definition of a renegade is a man who does what he knows is right and doesn’t back down. That’s Michelle Diener’s hero Parker in her Tudor series that will be out this August. I LOVE Parker, and I know many other readers will, too.

  2. Misty, I loved that song from “Footloose” (the whole soundtrack, actually, and the film as well!) and I’m a big fan of the Winchester brothers on “Supernatural.” Especially Dean 😛 . I definitely like those kind of men! But I also think a powerful renegade man is one that doesn’t always have to be recognized as such. He KNOWS he’s bucking the system just because of his beliefs, but he’s confident enough not to need to get credit for his good deeds in the heat of battle. I think of someone like “Zorro” or “The Scarlet Pimpernel” in those situations, and I love characters like that!

    • Misty Evans says:

      A fellow Dean Girl! 😀 And a fellow Footloose fan! I, too, have the Footloose soundtrack on my iPod, and as my sons will attest, I know all the words to all the songs by heart. heehee.

      Zorro…I haven’t thought about that character in a long time (the Antonio Banderas version = yummy). That’s a good one!

  3. LaDonna says:

    Hey, Misty, big Footloose fan here….and I see Marilyn is too! 😎 I love to read about heroes and whether it’s a cajun beaut conjured up by Tami Hoag, or a bastard knight by our own Karin Tabke, I’m drawn in like a nose-pressed-against-glass gal in a fudge factory or bake shop. Can’t help myself.

    Not sure what the secret ingredient is, but I know when I read it. I love wounded characters and once in a while they let you in; that’s where the magic lives. And man, I’m so waiting for Michelle’s series too! Edie got me thinking of how amazing 2011 is going to be, and I love that.

    • Misty Evans says:

      I know why I love this group, LaD. So many authors with excellent taste in men! I never get tired of watching Footloose and if I were more coordinated, I’d try to figure out the dances from it. 🙄

      Wounded heroes pull on my heartstrings. Love ’em. They often make the best renegades because we can understand their actions are based in pain and lost love. There is definitely a recipe for getting them right…and I love finding that mix, whether I’m writing one or reading one.

  4. Amy Atwell says:

    Misty, what a fun topic. The best example I can think of–and one I *love* to pieces–isn’t a book. It’s a play, a stage musical/movie, The Music Man. Robert Preston is brilliant as a con-man in turn-of-the-century Iowa who convinces a whole town he’s a music director. He’s completely the renegade, the rogue, the con-man–until he falls in love with the local librarian. Watching her let her hair down and him re-evaluate his purpose is brilliant. Truly a must see for anyone who writes romance because the characterizations are clear and the building of the romance is wonderful.

    • Misty Evans says:

      Excellent example, Amy. I haven’t seen The Music Man in years. I should throw that in my Netflix cart.

      The best stories, imho, always involve love turning the renegade around. Whether he’s closed himself off to love or has just never fell for anyone, that’s the key to saving him in the end. Beautiful. 😉

  5. Carrie Lofty says:

    I love it when a guy has just *had enough* and stops taking the status quo as his limit. He feels compelled to break the rules to see justice served, like an old fashioned Robin Hood trope. How far does a man who’s living a comfortable life have to be pushed before he turns against the unjust system that has treated him, at least, fairly. Schindler’s List and other such films demonstrate that dilemma. It’s easy for an oppressed person to fight back because he has nothing to lose and will go down fighting. But for a privileged man to give up that comfort for the needs of others? I’ll be happy to see him break a few rules for that cause. Sexy!

  6. Cynthia Eden says:

    Oh, you had me at Supernatural. And I LOVE that song. Definitely inspires the heroes I write!

  7. liz Kreger says:

    I think that’s why I love Jeaniene Frost’s Nighthuntress series so much. Bones is such a renegade who really doesn’t care what other people think of him … except for Cat, the woman he loves. It’s so well done that you can’t help but love him.

    A renegade can also be female … like Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty and Patricia Briggs’ Mercy. Both great characters who grow with each book.

    Terrific blog, Misty. You got me thinking of other renegades that I’ve read and loved.

    • Misty Evans says:

      Liz, I’ll have to look into the NightHuntress series. Bones sounds like my kind of renegade. And you’re right, renegades can be female too. Sometimes those characters are even tougher to write. When I think of female renegades I love, Fiona from Burn Notice comes to mind. That woman rocks.

  8. Misty, I love a renegade. And thanks, Edie – I know I’m biased, but I love Parker, the hero in my Tudor series, too. He really is the outsider who just won’t back down. I also loved the character of William Wilberforce in Amazing Grace, and loved even more that it’s based on real events. Against amazing opposition, he managed to have slavery abolished. Love that kind of renegade.

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