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  • Writer's pictureS.E. Reed

A Hero Worthy of Writing

When you start writing, you'll quickly discover it is a journey into the unknown. Sure, the characters you write might be familiar (see my last blog on Writing What You Know). And your hero might even reflect some of your own personal characteristics.

I mean, who doesn't want to be the hero?

But, unless you are writing a memoir, your hero will need more than your familiar face and qualities if they are going to make your book a page-turner.

First, let me clarify a few basic fictional hero archetypes.

1. The "Good-Guy"

This one is pretty clear. Your hero, is innately good. You write them within the framework that every choice they make will ultimately be the right one. They solve the mystery, rescue the damsel, fight the evil over-lord, all without breaking a sweat or a nail.

The problem with the "Good-Guy" is that he/she/they can get a little *yawn* boring. Unless you are writing books for New Readers-- in that case, stick to the Good Guys!

(Superman, Pollyanna, Hermione Granger)

2. The "Unlikely" Hero

An unlikely hero is a character who, by no fault of their own, is thrown into a situation that forces them to be heroic. These types of characters are more interesting to write (and read). For the most part, they are relatable and realistic, not a goody to-shoes superhero type. They have flaws and emotion. Unlikely heroes draw in the reader— they make us want to cheer them on.

(Frodo Baggins, Katniss Everdeen, Feyre Archeron)

3. The "Anti-Hero"

Writing a self-absorbed character who lacks the “normal” heroic qualities like bravery and trust, can be exciting! Even dangerous. Some of the most beloved characters in literature are the Anti-Hero. Someone who you love, but kind of hate! They are a roller coaster of mixed emotions.

But beware! You've got to really keep an eye on the anti-hero, or they can easily become the villain if you write them sloppily.

(Elsa, Venom, Jay Gatsby, Tyrion Lannister)

Writing the Worthy Hero

Okay, so now that we know some basic types of heroes, let's talk about how you are going develop one that's worthy of writing! Try a quick exercise. Think about your favorite books and the characters you love, specifically the hero. Take a few minutes and write down as many things about the hero as you can think of.

Does your list look something like this?

  • Determined

  • Brave

  • Clever

  • Quick-witted

  • Strong (emotionally or physically)

  • Overcomes challenges

  • Fights against all odds

  • Inner strength

  • Proud

If so, then you are on the right track.

Now, I want you to do the same thing for YOUR hero. Once you can identify the kind of hero your story has, you can begin to build out his/her/their personality traits. These heroic qualities are what gives your protagonist dimension and depth.

Your goal as a writer is to create unforgettable moments for your reader. You have to play up to the readers imagination and evoke strong emotion. And the best way to do that is to provide an unforgettable hero and use their list of personality traits to guide them.

Example: You've decided to make your hero a "Good Guy" who is brave and strong. When your hero comes across a witches house in the forest and hears a fair maiden screaming for help, does he:

a) run and hide b) talk his way out of it c) draw his sword and puff up his chest

As the writer, it is up to you to identify how your hero character behaves and if their behavior fits the mold you have written. If you take the time to identify and write a worthy hero, I promise you are well on your way to capturing the hearts and minds of your reader!


S.E. Reed

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