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.|
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!