Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Just Call Me Hero

A popular post from March 2009

By: Julie Wright

Back in college I was engaged to a guy who, whenever he did something that merited a pat on the back, would strike a superman pose and say in a deep melodramatic voice, "Just call me hero!"

I didn't end up calling him hero (or marrying him--I know . . . I'm a fickle female) because there was someone else who deserved the title a little more.

Writing stories is like dating. You've got to weed through your options before you figure out who your hero is. And like dating, the hero you pick is totally dependent on the outcome you desire. So when picking your hero, or protagonist, how do you know who is best suited for the job?

Ask yourself a few questions:
*Who has the most to gain?
*Who has the most to lose?
*Who hurts the most (because let's face it, pain is interesting)
*Who is the character who will most connect to your reader?
*Whose story spans the greater part of the novel?

Knowing the answers to those questions will make it easier to find your protagonist--your story's true hero. In the novel I just completed, I have twin sisters who are separated. Both have compelling stories, both have much to lose and much to gain if the cards are played right. But one sister had enough *more* to lose--she hurt more. I picked the sister who hurt the most.

Because if the hero doesn't hurt, why do we care? And if the hero doesn't hurt, what will they over come to gain them the right to be the hero?

If you feel like your story isn't heading in the right direction, it may just be because you picked the wrong hero, or maybe you picked the right hero, but you didn't hurt them enough, which means they have nothing to lose, and nothing to fight for.


Kimberly said...

This is so incredibly relevant to where I'm at right now. I, the writer, don't even much care for my protagonist. I don't know if she's the wrong choice or, if as you say, I just haven't hurt her enough.

A lot to mull over, and thanks for supplying the framework to do it with.

Jenn said...

Thanks for the great post, Hero! :)

I think my WIP probably has or will have this problem. I have two story lines. Two totally different people, who don't even know each other. With opposite problems. So far, I've been giving them equal billing.

Do I need to pick one to be the REAL protagonist and the other can play more of a supporting role? Or can they both be equally heroic in their own section of the book?

There is a point at the end where their stories come together. Maybe that's where the true light will shine through. When I write it. :)

Crystal Collier said...

I've never had a problem finding my hero. They always find me. =)