I read a lot of thrillers and romantic suspense, and watch a lot of crime dramas on TV, and though I’d hesitate to call anything predictable, I’ve determined that there are certain roles you just wouldn’t want to take on.
This idea crystallized for me while reading a James Patterson novel recently. It seems the tougher and more resourceful a man is, if he’s a main character, the more likely he is to be the male equivalent of a Black Widow for any love interest he may develop.
I’d never want to go home with Stuart Woods’ character Stone Barrington, for instance, because it seems any woman with whom he’s romantically involved will be killed or at the very least kidnapped before the story ends.
One of the most dangerous positions is a bodyguard. The good guys may have all sorts of protective technology, not to mention being so clever they can intuitively guess where the bad guys will strike again. But as soon as the main character, generally a manly man with almost supernatural crime-fighting powers, tells someone they’ll be perfectly safe in a house or apartment because he’s got his best man guarding the person, you can be pretty sure that guard is done for. Yes, they’re usually former Navy SEALS or members of a clandestine force so elite that no one can even admit it exists.
But somehow or other the bad guys find a way to overpower even the most highly trained, muscular men in order to take out the person under protection.
You never want to be the first or second person snatched by a serial killer on Criminal Minds. The bodies pile up while the team analyzes and comes to that ah-ha moment when they figure out where the serial killer is hiding out. You want to be the person who gets taken during the third act of the show, because even though you may have some unpleasant experiences, at least you know you’re going to live.
So even though the main character may get shot, stabbed, fall off a cliff, leap out a window, or otherwise perform a feat that would make Superman look wimpy, they manage to get up dust themselves off, declare “it’s only a flesh wound,” and carry on. Not so his trusted childhood friend.
I’d just like to give some advice to those poor souls in those unfortunate parts, namely, don’t go for coffee for just a minute, don’t stop to check your phone, don’t do anything at all that will leave your audience screaming “watch out!”
Yes, it makes for a suspenseful read, but the demise of a good guy (or gal) is a really, really unpleasant thing.