What I’ve Learned From Little Boys
(…about what makes a man a hero)
By Paula Altenburg
I love little boys. I raised two of them, and as young men, they haven’t lost a whole lot of what it was I loved about them when they were little.
When I wrote the Demon Outlaws stories, when it came to creating my heroes, I tried to keep the following observations in mind.
Little boys are honest and tell it like it is. There’s no guessing with them. They’re completely in touch with their feelings, because they have two primary ones. Happy and mad. If they’re mad, they usually know why. If they don’t, then they’re frustrated. And they will usually ask a parent (or other trusted adult) why they’re frustrated so they’ll know for future reference, because frustration makes little boys mad.
They do, however, like a challenge. And this explains so much about them.
Below are my top favorite observations about little boys:
1. Everything is a competition.
Little boys are most impressed by loud body function noises. If you can win this competition, you are a hero. FWIW, grown men are equally impressed by this. They simply don’t brag about it as much.
2. An idea doesn’t have to be smart to be test-worthy.
The outcome merely has to be uncertain and debateable. If you predict the outcome accurately, then you are a wise hero. This includes jumping off rooftops to see which hits the ground faster – a boy or a baseball. And it’s why so many physicists are guys. Boys need hard facts. Seeing is believing.
3. Little boys like pretty girls better than regular girls.
Their definition of “pretty” is simply not what girls think. “Pretty” is definitely the right word, but little boys don’t use it as an adjective. It’s usually followed by “…good at video games. “…Good at soccer.” “…Good at making loud body function noises.” Ask a boy what color a girl’s eyes are. They may actually know the answer to this, but be sure to question why they know it.
4. Little boys have an instinctive fear of “high maintenance.”
If a girl is actually physically pretty and thinks this is somehow important, little boys consider her incomprehensible and frustrating, and most likely full of germs (because they need an explanation). She has to work a lot harder to be considered “pretty good” at anything that matters, thus earning their respect. As little boys get older, however, this frustration changes to challenge. But they will continue to be most impressed by pretty girls who can compete with them in their areas of interest. For them, that’s a package deal.
5. Little boys respect physical strength.
Little boys also know the difference between right and wrong. Therefore, little boys don’t like bullies, because regardless of how the situation is portrayed in the press, on average there are more well-behaved little boys (and girls) than there are bullies. And if a boy is willing to stand up to a bully, he is considered a hero. Although possibly a stupid one. It depends on the outcome. (See #2 on this list.)
I’ve discovered that many of these observations carry over into my writing. I love creating my male characters the most, and probably for the same reason I loved raising little boys so much.
Little boys know what makes a hero.
Check out Black Widow Demon, book 2 in the Demon Outlaws series, and let me know if little boys would find Blade heroic. He’s a bit dark, and a lot tortured, and far from perfect. But above all, he has a good sense of what’s right and what’s wrong.
What do you, as readers, think makes a good hero?
Black Widow Demon
The Demon Outlaws series
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Date of Publication: November 26th, 2013
Number of pages: 400
Word Count: 90,000
Cover Artist: Kim Killion
Passionate and headstrong, half-demon Raven is nearly executed on the orders of her fundamentalist stepfather. She escapes from the burning stake using the gifts of her otherworldly heritage and the help of a mortal stranger named Blade. Now she’s set on revenge, and only quiet, intense Blade stands in her way.
A retired assassin weary of the weight of his past, Blade has crossed the desert to seek out a new life. His journey is interrupted when his conscience demands he help Raven find an old friend who can help her. Saving her from her need for revenge and delivering her into the hands of loved ones means he’s one step closer to redemption.
But as Blade’s sense of duty becomes something more and threats, both mortal and immortal, stalk the woman he can’t abandon, he could very well fall back into the life he’s trying so hard to escape.
About the Author:
Paula Altenburg lives in rural Nova Scotia, Canada, with her husband and two sons. Once a manager in the aerospace industry, she now enjoys the freedom of working from home and writing fulltime. Paula currently writes paranormal romance and category romance for Entangled Publishing. Visit her at www.paulaaltenburg.com and follow her on Twitter @PaulaAltenburg.
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