Give Me a Hero!

Dear Writer Within Me:

Give me a hero!

You've been shying away from heroism, writer within. You've been mesmerized by the concept that every character should be flawed. You've been fascinated by anti-heroes and morally gray protagonists. And you've begun to forget how dreadfully important the good characters are.

Don't be alarmed; I still want my wandering characters, my struggling souls, my sinners in need of conversion. Keep the traumatized drunkard, the quick-tempered outlaw, the dashing revolutionist.

But don't be afraid of making some characters perfect. In each and every story, give me at least one out-and-out hero.

Image not mine.

Before you rebel, O well-trained writer's mind, let me explain what I mean by "perfect." I don't want you to write cardboard cut-outs who find it easier to be good than to breathe. Spare me the goody-goody character who sails through life without ever knowing the winds of temptation! By all means, send trial after trial his way, give him his own demons to face--but don't be afraid to let him conquer. Don't be afraid to let him triumph.

Give me a hero.

Oh, the flawed and conflicted and wandering ones are close to my heart--languid Sydney Carton who hates himself for being languid; tragic Charlie Campbell who hasn't the strength to fight his alcoholism; erring Jay Gatsby who might make something splendid of himself if he wasn't so hopelessly lost.

But even closer to my heart are the perfect ones: Beth March, whose gentleness and humility in the face of death give me a flaming desire to be like her; Dym Ingleford, whose selfless devotion to a brother who doesn't love him back make me ache with admiration; Sam Gamgee, whose total loyalty to Frodo challenges me to be a better follower of Christ.

These characters are heroes, and they are the ones I love most. It doesn't matter that their flaws are small and few. It is enough that their struggles are real.

We need more heroes like them. Gray characters and tragic figures might teach us a lesson about human frailty or simply be fascinating to pick apart. But it's the heroes who inspire us to climb just one more step to perfection.

And in the end, isn't that the only thing a story is good for?

Don't be afraid to write a saint.

Give me a hero!

Comments

  1. Saints and heroes almost seem to be undervalued these days- but they're such vital character types.
    I notice they tend to be the ones to bring stability to a story. They are the ones to bring focus on what's really important.



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    Replies
    1. That's a good point, Blue! And it seems they don't even have to be major characters to have that effect--just one little side character who's always standing up for the right thing can make all the difference in the world.

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  2. I agree! I like the so-called 'naughty' MCs and all, but I far prefer the good ones! This is why I will always prefer Thor (post change) to Loki (which, even though Loki is the bad guy, you'd be surprised how many people like him better than Thor), and Captain America to Iron Man, and Meg March to Jo. We need more heroes!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, yes--characters in need of conversion are dreadfully interesting, but nothing can replace a hero. :) We need our characters to be admirable as well as likeable...some of the time at least.

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