© Linda Style 2011
You might think creating fictional heroes is easy. All you have to do is give them some heroic qualities and voila! Instant hero. And if you actually thought that, you'd be dead wrong.
Yes, our fictional heroes must be well-rounded individuals, skilled, capable and knowledgable in many different areas. But no one is perfect. Our heroes must also be flawed, fallible and weak in certain instances.
There's little tension and suspense in following the journey of someone who's successful in every way. That's why readers and movie and television viewers gravitate to the underdog.
We want someone to cheer for, someone who struggles, sometimes against himself, to gain his goal. Why? Because we can relate. He's not perfect. We're not perfect.
According to Webster's Dictionary, some heroic qualities are:
And here's what I found when I asked a group of readers (mostly women) what qualities fictional characters had to possess to be hero material:
He should be successful, have class, smart, honorable, decisive, tough, capable, a natural leader and strong. Not just physical strength, but also strong mentally. Someone that not only can protect me in a dark alley, but whose opinions and decisions I trust. He's a man. He's also physically attractive -- tall, handsome and muscular. He's sensitive, a gentleman and a great kisser. He doesn't use more hair products than me and no white shoes and gold chains.
Okay. We are talking fiction here, and obviously, what makes a hero is different to different people. Our fictional heroes should be different as well. What your hero values comes from his environment, family background, social mobility and a host of other things. Know him well and know his flaws. Know how difficult it will be for him to be brave, or sacrifice his own goals for that of another. Make him human and you will have a "real" hero.
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