Sunday, October 21, 2012
When writing my stories for High School Heroes, I delved deeply into the world of heroes. But what is a hero, what do they do that makes them who they are? Why are we drawn to heroes?
And most importantly of all, how do we, as writers, create a hero that is believable?
I think back to the ancient heroes when I think of a hero. There is Beowulf, Odysseus, Achilles, Jason, King Arthur, among others. If you look at many of these heroes, they are perfect in every way except for having a tragic flaw. Beowulf had his pride, while Achilles had his rage. These things lead to their downfall.
This same concept can be applied to more modern day heroes as well. Superman has his Kryptonite, Hulk has in uncontrollable rage, etc. But are these the things that make them heroic?
A hero is defined by their actions. A hero must do what is necessary in any situation. The hero must help someone or right the wrongs of someone or help topple an evil-someone to be the hero they must be.
The problem is, when writing a hero, many writers make them too perfect. After all, the hero needs to be a likable character, doesn't he or she? So, we shouldn't have them do anything unlikable, should we? The answer to this question is a resounding NO!
Like the heroes of old, our heroes we write should have some kind of flaw. Our heroes we write need to make mistakes. Our heroes need to be... HUMAN. No one wants to read about a hero that is too perfect. It is too unreal and frankly boring. A hero needs to grow. A hero needs to have real world problems just like the rest of us.
For Christine, the main character in High School Heroes, one of her biggest problems is dealing with the fact that she is a social outcast. It makes her more relatable than if I just made her go in and save the day. Through the story she makes friends, and loses them, all the while struggling with the question of whether she should use her newfound powers for herself or for others.
That is a hero.
So, if you're just starting out a story, or even if you're well within writing it. I suggest doing an outline, but not of the story, an outline of your hero. Talk about what makes them great, but give them an inner conflict - something that makes them worth reading about. You need to make your hero something that someone wants to succeed despite their flaws.
Just remember, as you write your hero, no matter if you want him/her to be larger-than-life like the heroes of old, or you want him/her to be a simple schoolteacher or taxi-cab driver, make them great, but don't make them perfect.
Now go and write!