There are many interesting characters, both good and bad, in both fiction and real life.
But memorable heroes stand out because:
They go beyond what is required by their job or role in society. They don’t have to do what they’re doing, but they accept the quest. I’m reading a novel now about a retired detective who’s investigating a case without pay and against the wishes of local law enforcement. He’s doing it for the murdered girl and the hint that there might be more like her.
They go all in: They face adversity, sometimes ridicule in pursuit of their quest.
They rarely are successful when they cut corners or find easy fixes (exception is Indiana Jones using his gun in the market place).
They’re human – they have faults. They might be frumpy, disheveled or fumbling, but they keep focused on their goal (Colombo ). They could carry a grudge from past events (Sophia ) or be too quick to judge (Elizabeth).
They’re not always strong, but when they are – they aren’t bullies.
The best heroes use their strength to fight forces larger than themselves, protect the weak and bring justice -- for the ones with no voices, or limited means so they can’t fight for themselves.
They take themselves lightly. My favorite hero characters are witty, and aren't above laughing at themselves on occasion.
Memorable heroes slog through a lot of mud on their quests. They can be tempted, confused or even too narrow-minded, but they eventually make the right decision when it would be easier to go down a different path.
Do you agree? Who is your favorite hero?
Insights on writing, characters, humor and other tidbits from the author of the "Scoops and Schemes" series of novels.
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