Heroes–What Makes Them Great?

Guess what? My hubby took our older girls out to set and check traps with him during three year old’s nap yesterday, and meanwhile, I got in almost three hours of work on my WIP (work-in-progress)! It’s a contemporary women’s fiction novel, with two point of views, the hero’s and the heroine’s.

It’s been forever, so I spent some time gathering my hastily jotted notes–yes, even when I’m not writing, I have great dialog and ideas for scenes flashing through my ever busy brain–and fleshed out an already started GMC chart for hero and heroine. GMC stands for goals-motivation-conflict, in case you’re wondering. 🙂

My hero needed some help. He’s a nice guy, despite his inner turmoil. Too nice, probably. So I was pleased to find these blog articles by Susan May Warren (author of Chill Out, Josey!) over at Book Therapy. The one I’ve linked to is the first in the series, and even if you don’t play around at writing like I do, you might enjoy checking them out. Writers evaluate everything. It feeds our creativity, lol. I can’t even watch a movie anymore without getting to the heart of every little detail…things that I love or hate, what makes the main characters tick.

So Susan’s articles on heroes and their “Noble Causes, Flaws and Fears” really hooked me. Especially as one of her examples is spot on for what I’ve written. My fictional hero’s dad died in the line of duty when he was 9 years old, and hero grew up wanting to be just like him (not dead, you know what I mean *wink*). He served in the military police, and came home to work in a small town police department near his childhood community. He has a “protector complex”, but I wasn’t sure what other flaws I should give the poor man.

He’s already made “his stunning mistake”, he is atoning for it, but I have yet to figure out how to have him betray one of his “deepest values” for the sake of the more important one. Have I lost you? Maybe Susan’s explanation using Mel Gibson’s struggle in The Patriot will help:

“Well, here’s why…because at some point in your story, your hero is going to have to choose between the two values. He’ll have to betray the one, and choose the other.

But why can’t he just have both?

Because, the best tension is INNER tension…and competing values are what makes a story take a reader’s breath away. It’s why we’ll cry at Sommersby, and why Mr. Darcy’s confession of love gets us in the heart every time, and why it’s so darn heroic when Mel Gibson comes riding up with the mended American flag after his son is killed in the Patriot. Every character has had to grapple with their inner values, and find the one that pushes them forward. The one that is most Noble.”

I should say that I’m on the fourth draft of this particular novel…yeah…so I still have a lot to learn and am using this story to hone my craft! May it someday see the light of day, one can always hope!Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger - The Patriot

My favorite movie heroes include Tom Hanks (You’ve Got Mail), Keanu Reeves (Lake House), and Mel Gibson (The Patriot). As far as book heroes go, I really loved Trevor in Deb Raney’s Remember to Forget, Landon in Denise Hunter’s Surrender Bay, and Jamie in Liz Curtis Higg’s Lowlands of Scotland series.

All my favorite heroes have one thing in common, they all make me swoon! They’re courteous to a fault, protective and committed. And usually tormented by their past, or the heroine’s past.

What do you look for in a hero, and what are some of your fictional/movie favorites? If you can think of their flaws/fears/noble causes, will you share them in comments?