I suppose the ruggedly handsome rogue hero, is technically more appropriately called the lovable rogue, but I like my description better. I could try to write a how-to here, but that’s pointless, because there’s a lot of that out there and everything I’ve seen I generally disagree with to a certain extent. I’m also not out here to pick a fight with other bloggers or advice givers, so picking apart someone else’s analysis isn’t worth the time. Instead, I thought I’d rather muse on three of my favorite lovable rogues. These would be Han Solo, Malcom (Mal) Reynolds from Firefly, and Uhtred of Bebbanburg from the Saxon Stories series*.
First question – Who would win in a fight if they were all pitted against each other at the same time? Uhtred is from the 800s, and only has a sword. I expect he would go down first. Both Mal and Han have firearms. Then Mal would go down because (Wait for it … ) Han shoots first.
Now that’s sorted out, who is the most roguish? Before I can tackle this question, I need to discount the killing of bad-guys. It’s an occupational hazard of the stories these characters appear in. Let’s start with Han. Turns’ out he’s actually a scoundrel. Yes, he comes back to save Luke at the end of movie 1, and he sticks it out through the series, even leading a dangerous expedition on Endor, but his back story is one of real crime, and his motives throughout the rest of the movies aren’t clear – I suppose it’s for the love of Leia. What about Uhtred? The most notable bit of roguishness involves the double-crossing and sacking of a Welsh village. Most of the rest of his exploits involve fighting with Danes, and as it’s part of a war between the Saxons and Danes so I’m not sure that counts as roguish behavior. His back-story has him turned out from a noble Saxon family to be brought up by Danes. Now for Mal. His day job involves running illegal cargo, BUT he’s got a strict set of rules about what that cargo is. He gives up jobs that directly hurt regular folk. His back story involves being on the wrong side of a war. I hardly count this as roguish. Once again Han comes out on top.
What about the strict set of rules this character lives by? In my opinion, Mal really has the best and most idealistic set of rules, generally centered on letting people live their lives. I can’t tell you what sort of rules Han lives by – he’s a scoundrel. Uhtred lives by the sword, and the oath. I’d put him second in the strong belief’s category.
Who’s the most ruggedly handsome? I don’t care.
I could go on, but I think that’s enough. What’s the point of this musing? To be honest, this is some rubber-ducking to help me work out a main character. I hadn’t initially imagined him as a lovable rogue, but that’s where it’s landed. This is one of the reasons I’m having trouble making the character really pop (because I’m fighting against this characterization). Now that I’ve accepted the reality of who this character needs to be in order to make the story work, I need to make sure that I do it right. There are a whole lot of ways to achieve this type of character, I just need to settle on one and go with it. I’m thinking of placing him just outside the not a lovable rogue sphere, but slightly more on the soldier quadrant.
Do you have a lovable rogue? Where does s/he belong on this chart?
* By Bernard Cornwell. You need to read this.