Monday, 3 October 2011

Something Stronger Than A Hero

For the past two weeks, those of you following me on twitter have been aware of problem in my WIP that I've never had before. (although the problems I have had could fill... a.... book)

My characters were utterly flat. Not all of them, but enough. I already posted about this here, along with a few ways to get out of the character rut. So I learned how to make my characters real, a process that had come fairly naturally before.

So I have characters. But what ingredients do I mix to make a hero?

I turn to my favorite source of creative input - video games.

My favorite heroes:
Link (duh)
Ezio (AC:II)
Hawke (DA:II)
Number Six (HALO Reach)
Mario (... Mario?)
Is it cheating to say Aragorn? Surely there's a video game version of LOTR somewhere...

All wildly different type of heroes, all wildly different. I'm looking at just two today: Link and Ezio.


Link never talks, but his actions are enough to make him a hero to thousands of children and a hunk to dozens of girls - like me. (feels weird to say that with a picture of toon link) What makes Link a hero?

I would say patient endurance. He goes through hell guys, anyone who's played the game knows that. There's more to this hell than Navi, however; he gets bruised, scratched, beat up, blamed, framed, ignored, and asked to pay full price when he's freaking saving the world.
Yet he shrugs, puts the money on the counter, and goes on to save Hyrule.
That's pretty gosh darn heroic.

Ezio (Assassin's Creed II)

Ezio's a charmer. He's the assassin on the right; the assassin on the left is Ubisoft's sad attempt at a brooding hero. He came out more like a whiny piece of cardboard. (Cool name, though, Altair - Al-tye-EER)
Ubisoft saw the problem and fixed it with the sequel's hero. Charming, womanizing Ezio, gem of Renaissance Italy is hardly a blank slate. He is, however, fun to play and follow through a story. What makes him a hero?

I'd say determination and adaptability. Young Ezio faces circumstances where he has to become a man overnight, but he rises to the challenge. He is determined to protect his family, but beyond that, he takes on the mantle of his father and fights against the Templars. He dedicates his whole life to it. And he never loses his charm.

A hero of my heart, if nothing else.

What do you think? What virtues must a hero have, and what are flaws that he cannot have?

Oh, and it's Monday! So it's time to announce the winner from my 150 followers contest!

And the winner (via randomizer) is.....

Congrats! Email me your address and I will have amazon ship the mug and tea!

Also, I think Riley Redgate totally deserves an honorable mention. Look at the sonnet she wrote! :)

I turned and stared thee in thy narrow eye,
Thou loathsome beast which slavered, snarled, and squalled.
Surprise did bid me turn away and fly,
But resolute was I, and not appalled.
Thou wast an angry, brooding, dismal thing,
Thy eyes aglow, thy reddened teeth adrip;
Of muscles, I could see thy every string,
And blood marked every vicious fingertip.
"Foul beast!" cried I; my speaking quavered nary,
It seemed my sword had pow'r to fly alone.
Another arm, a limb quite ancillary,
The blade discovered in thy breast a home.
T'was then I wept, swept up by alien woe;
'tis man's great shame to kill a worthy foe.

I think she deserves a billion rounds of applause, don't you? If you haven't checked out her blog In The Jungle, go do it!



Lisa Gail Green said...

I think you said it perfectly with: He rises to the challenge. :D

Christina Lee said...

Whew that's a loaded question. :D Enough flaw and strength to make the reader CARE. So no holding them at arms length from the reader--let them feel and hear their thoughts, *show* them what they are going through.

And what a lovely sonnet!

L.G.Smith said...

Yeah, a hero goes through hell and still gets up and walks toward danger. And he doesn't whine about it. :)

Marsha Sigman said...

I think characters have to be a mix of who we are...and who we want to be. Not easy to do.

Sorry I never got a chance to enter the contest but congrats to the winner! and awesome honorable mention.

The Golden Eagle said...

One flaw I think a hero cannot (or shouldn't, anyway) have is a lack of thought for other people. I read one book where the main character (who was set up like a hero) didn't care about the people he dealt with at all--he was one of the most uncaring characters I've ever come across.

I've been having problems with flat characters, too.

Congratulations to the winner!

Morgan said...

Humm... for me, the most important thing about a hero is that they realize they are fighting for something bigger than themselves.

It was a really good idea to look at heroes from video games. I never would have thought of that, but now I'll have to start paying attention next time I play one :)

Lynda R Young said...

I think heroes need to be strong to overcome the odds.

I don't think they should ever have the flaw of whineyness or cowardice.

Carrie Butler said...

I'm with Lynda on this one. :)

I love that you used Link as an example. Great post, Bethany!

Lauren W. said...

Great post Bethany! Lately, I've been drawn to unlikely heroes. Characters that seemed somehow damaged or isolated by some unknown (later revealed) tragedy but begin to fight for something and slowly a courageous hero emerges.

E.R. King said...

My first draft always comes across flat. Then I edit for voice and add things that make my characters pop. Have fun with yours. (Mario is one of my fave heroes. So is Princess Peach.)

Riley Redgate said...

Ooh, awesome post! Some of my characters could definitely benefit from a healthy helping of Link. :P It's always a challenge for me to create a hero that is actually heroic. I tend to go overboard with flaws and make my characters unlikable... gah.

Also, yeeee honorable mention! =]

Sangu said...

I think, especially these days, a hero can have pretty much any virtue (or not have one) and be flawed in almost any way. The only thing I think a great hero needs is integrity. Because as long as a hero does what he or she believes is right (even if a reader or other characters don't agree), I think it makes them pretty heroic.