Thursday, March 15, 2012

Make Your Hero's Great

This is a special addition of Character Traits. The title says it all. Make Your Hero's Great. Already there are some of you who will disagree with me. You want your hero's flawed. Let me make myself clear, we aren't talking about flaws, we are talking about choices. But, you say, the flaws influence the choices. Yes, you are correct, but really, some things should be beyond a hero's thought process to accept as okay behavior.

I have read a certain fantasy series that is a top seller. I should say, I read the first book and never picked up any other book by this author. Why? His hero raped a woman. This was justified by explaining that the hero was in an alternate world and he didn't believe any of it was real. Excuse me, what does that have to do with any thing? Rape is a crime that shouldn't even enter the hero's mind. Mass murder committed by a sociopath does not equal a hero. An arsonist is not a hero. These crimes mean that there is something innately wrong with a person. I don't care if they are rehabilitated and turn a new leaf, I will never trust them. Your characters, if they are wise, will never trust them. Now if a villain becomes a hero, well, that is a whole different post. I will address that at another time.

I am aware that there are many of you who write "dark" fiction. Some of you write about fantastical creatures whose very nature makes them criminals. We aren't talking about those creatures. Making them into hero's is a new and exciting genre. I am talking about humans. If you take a human who obeys the law except for the occasional evil deed, then please do not try to sell that character as a hero.

Of course your comments are always welcome. Please keep it civil.


Kay Theodoratus said...

Maybe the term "memorable" might be a better term? With a balance of good traits and obvious flaws.

Darcy, anyone? He's been hanging in the cultural consciousness for a few years.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Kay
Good point, memorable.

Jamie Gibbs said...

I agree; choice and intention play a bit part in shaping a hero. Heroes can sometimes get away with bad things so long as their intentions were good, and they genuinely thought that it was for the best.

Using the example you gave, I can't conceive of a scenario where rape would ever be deemed acceptable or good at any level, so there aren't any good intentions behind that. The only time that would work is if a main crux of the story was the hero's battle between his own conflicting good/evil nature.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nancy .. I agree - used in the wrong context .. a hero is a hero, not a rapist too ...

Have a good weekend .. Hilary

Mary said...

Great post! Hero's can be flawed, but they would never do something so vile and still be a hero.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Jamie
Thank you for putting it so well.

Hi Hilary
Correct, hero's are hero's not criminals.

Hi Mary
Yes, being flawed is necessary for a strong character, but being deviant doesn't make for a hero.

Thank you all for stopping by. I appreciate your comments.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That wasn't a hero, that was an anti-hero. I don't like them either. Read the first book in Piers Anthony's Bio of a Space Tyrant series and the 'hero' raped, tortured, and did all sorts of awful things. Never read another book in the series.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Alex
Oh no, and Piers Anthony is one of my favorite authors. I love the Xanth series.

Carolyn V said...

I totally agree. A hero is not a monster. They cannot be the same. Ew. Someone should have told that author.

Southpaw said...

I agree. I think there are certain lines that can't be crossed for a hero to be hero.

Anti-heroes are a different story.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Carolyn, Hi Holly
Glad you agree. Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

I don't read books with things like rape or child abuse in it. I just don't. If other people want to read this kind of stuff, then hey, its a free country. But I'll put the book down as soon as I come across anything like that.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Stephen
Me too, thanks for your comment.

LTM said...

Yeah, I don't think I could keep going with a rapist hero. It shows a mental problem that kind of stretches me too far. Isn't that part of those Dragon Tattoo books? I've been reluctant to read them for that reason~ <3