Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday: Characters, the Hero:

Progress Report: I’ve finished chapters 13 – 16 in my search of ‘ly’ and ‘ing’ words and made the corrections. The Colorado Gold Conference delayed my edits last week. So this week I plan to finish eight chapters or more.

Monday: Characters, the Hero:

In the sports arena, the star athlete has taken years to accomplish his/her status. In the beginning s/he was just another kid who loved the sport. (Pick your favorite and interject it here). Maybe they came by the gift naturally. Maybe they had parents who were involved in the sport too. Maybe they had a mentor, someone who took an interest in them and encouraged them to play their sport. Maybe they just wanted to hang with the crowd that loved that sport. In all cases, for this person to become a professional athlete meant years of training, from learning the sport, to disciplining their bodies and mind, to practice, practice and more practice. At some point in all of this a dream developed. Then the dream became a goal. Once it was a goal, they set their sights on the final end result, put their head down and did whatever it took to achieve their goal.

This quality, whether in the athlete or in another profession makes that person a hero. Most of us don’t consider ourselves heroes. But when a writer is looking for the qualities to make their character a hero or heroine, this is exactly what they think of. There are other characteristics of the hero as well. The willingness to sacrifice themselves for others or something they believe in. Any service profession fits this description. Usually we think of those in fire department, military, police, paramedics or doctors and nurses first.

In fiction as well as real life, there are those who are accidental heroes. What does this mean? It is the person who is in the right place at the right time, or perhaps in their opinion, they are there at the wrong time. Regardless they choose to help. To save the child from being hit by a car, or to interfere with a robbery, or maybe the person who runs into a burning building to save the dog. You get the idea. They are heroes.

So what does it take to write a hero? You need to understand your character. What is his/her goal in life? What happens that interferes with their goals and sets them on the path of the hero? Did they choose to take this action? Or where they trust into the middle of things without a clue? Every writer must decide what type of hero best fits the story they want to tell.

Some writers know the plot, or story first, and then create a hero and other characters to tell the story. Some writers know the hero first and build the story around the hero’s qualities. Some writers are inspired by actual events or a person they have met or read about and go about changing enough elements of the person to fit their idea of their hero. Other writers, myself included, do not base any character on a real person.

One thing is absolutely certain, without a compelling hero, the writer’s wonderful story cannot be told.

Who is your favorite hero or heroine of all time? Please do tell.


Judy Croome said...

Does a movie hero count? I've too many story-book heroes to count (although Hector from The Illiad is a favourite!). Sooo, my movie hero is...Christopher Plummer as Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music. Sigh!!!

N. R. Williams said...

Nice choice Judy. I think any hero counts.

Vicki said...

Hands down, Jamie Fraser from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series

Peg Brantley said...

Right now I'm kind of liking Poke Rafferty in Timothy Hallinan's series set in Bangkok. He's an accidental hero who has a flaw or two, and who loves unconditionally.

Marian Allen said...

So many.... So many.... I love Michael Z. Lewin's main characters, especially PI Albert Samson, cop Leroy Powder and homeless "entrepreneur" Jan Moro. They all have their flaws, but they're all good guys who do the right thing.

Marian Allen

Anonymous said...

There are so many... But I'm going to have to go with the kid in me and say Harry Potter. He is courageous, self-sacrificing, and doesn't care about all the attention he gets.

Ron at CM said...

My favorite heroes in any book are real guys. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, because they took on the nastiest guys in town.

Fiction: hard to come up with one favorite. So here are a few from around the genre pool...

Patterson's Max Ride
Bradbury's Guy Montag
Orwell's Winston Smith
Deaver's Catherine Dance (Lincoln Rhyme isn't bad...)

Then before we stir, we'll toss in a little Clarice Starling, a dash of George Smiley, and top it off with a smidge (OK a BIG smidge) of Atticus Finch.


N. R. Williams said...

Good choice, Vicki.

Peg, I haven't read Hallinan's book yet, it's on my TBR list.

Marian, flawed heroes are the most believable.

Amanda, I'm with you Harry is one of my favorites.

Ron, so many to pick from, it's hard to make a single choice.

Thanks everyone for commenting.

Clarissa Draper said...

I dont think I can narrow it down but I love Charlotte from Charlotte's web.


N. R. Williams said...

It really is hard to narrow it down Clarissa. Charlotte is a good choice.