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?

15 thoughts on “Heroes–What Makes Them Great?”

  1. I am SOOOOO glad you got time to write!! I hope it was completely fulfilling for you (sounds like it was!) and I hope you get more in the future.

    I like (and I hate to say this…I just know people will laugh as they read this) heroes like Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribean…he is so passionate about Elizabeth, yet the gentlest man alive. At the same time he is so manly and chivalrous, and sensitive. I love how he doesn’t even notice other women exist, only HIS Elizabeth.

    On the total opposite, I also like Captain Jack Sparrows, since he is the complete opposite. He is the “bad boy”, has a wild past, and just reeks of danger…which is why he is so appealing. Girls love to look at something like that and think “they are spontaneous, I will never be bored” and then set out to change the man to want to change for them. I think that, although this rarely happens, maybe Captain Jack Sparrows has the potential to be like that since he is also a passionate man-for his ship the “Pearl”.

    LOL I also loved the Patriot, but it has been so long since I have watched it I couldn’t comment there.

    OK-another one for everyone to laugh at…Leo DiCaprio in Titanic-I think his name is Will too. Every girl loves a man willing to die for her (although they hope that it never comes to that!).

  2. I’m not laughing, though I’m so far behind on the current movies, we haven’t seen Pirates yet, but we’ve wondered at how much everyone loves it (at least the first movie!)! I’ve always found Leonardo quite charming also–totally agree with your comments on him. Thanks for playing, Geri!

    Your comments on Captain Jack Sparrows really go along with a non-fiction book I’ve been reading by John Eldridge, Wild at Heart. It is SO good, on why men are so passive when God created them to rule the world. I’m fascinated by the author’s progression–his main point is that men aren’t living up to their Godly potential. Why are they such couch potatoes for things like the Superbowl? Because that’s all the adventure they get to embrace in a life spent in an office cubicle, driving their mini-vans and paying off their mortgages. The author makes a great point, that God loves risks, adventures, and the element of surprise. He after all, created Grizzly bears, earthquakes, sex, and all the intricacies of nature. It’s no wonder we women are attracted to the wild ones, or that we wish our men were more “alive and daring”…

    Just had to share that after your astute observations of Captain Jack! 😉

  3. And I must add, in defense of my dh, he’s a total man’s man. EXCEPT for the Superbowl, much to my relief! He didn’t even tune in to see who won, I had to read him the results off of Yahoo. Dh can fix anything, and if he doesn’t know how, he figures it out. Undauntable. And he would sooo be into extreme sports if we had the vacation time and $$. Someday we’re going to do something crazy together so we can look back and laugh in our old age…

  4. That’s great! And the best part will be that you are doing those things together! Learning something like that will be so much fun for you two! My DH is like that…his weakness is hockey, but he doesn’t even keep up with football. (I guess Canada=hockey and US=football as far as major sports go). But he is also a handyman…so nice to have a handy man in the house, isn’t it?

    LOL and I am glad you weren’t laughing. I only meant that most people would probably think that I was choosing them because they are big actors for the teenie-bopper girls…but I chose them because they were the first heroes I could think of that are my faves…I know there are more but my mind is a blank right now.

    Your comments on that book and men really make me want to read it. It is definitely something to ponder…

  5. What do I look for in a hero? First, in books, they have to be committed men to Christ. Second, a gentlemen to a fault. I read a lot of Christian historical romances and I swoon over them all, hee.

    As for the men in the movies, Neo from the Matrix, he brings back the woman he loves, and is saving the world. Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice, of course, Mark Darcy on Bridget Jones, such a perfect gentlemen.
    Rick O’Connell on the Mummy movies, he is totally in love with his wife and they are a team.

    I love strong men, but have a tender side for the women they love. I am sure there are more, but I can’t think of any right now.

  6. Well, Geri, my dh’s weakness would be the RFD channel, he is soo into horse training, etc. It’s a good thing we don’t have it. 😉 So maybe he does have an alternate addiction to football!

    I think it’s neat that your dh loves/plays hockey. When I was a young girl, we’d often go to a nearby mall and sit watching hockey games there. The mall had a large ice rink. I thought those hockey players were pretty hunky! Especially when they’d slam into the wall below me and glance up and wink!

    Leticia, I have got to hie myself to a movie store. I feel really out of touch after reading your and Geri’s favorite movie heroes. I haven’t seen any of the movies you mentioned. I think I’d like them though, based on the heroes! I have seen a very old version of P&P, but not the newest one.

  7. I haven’t seen the newest one either, but my Mom and I have seen the old one ages ago…I’ll have to get DH and I to have a movie night. The Pirates of the Caribean trilogy is really good so far. It’s extremely unrealistic but funny and is really advenurous, so DH likes it alot too.

    I figure skated when I was younger and so I spent most of my days there too…plus my brother was in hockey so when we weren’t there for skating, we were there for hockey. I was always a tomboy growing up though…I always wanted to join hockey but my parents wouldn’t let me since it wasn’t ladylike. But now my little sister is in hockey…LOL parenting styles definitely have changed since I was her age. My Dad was really into hockey and got drafted by the NY Islanders when he was young (while him and my Mom were going out) but he decided to have a family rather than pursue that, so hockey has always been a big thing in our family because he still plays hockey every day…

    I’m still trying to come up with more heroes…how about Zorro…LOL I loved him growing up! He was so mysterious and romantic and dangerous.

  8. Ooh, yes, Zorro–Antonio-style! 😉 Good one. Dh loves anything Zorro! I really liked the hero in the Hallmark movie, A Christmas Card. So strong and silent, but DEEP and wow…have you seen that movie?

    I loved to ice skate, but never took lessons. Do you and your dh ice skate together ever, or play hockey together? Your dad still plays every day?! Wow. It sounds like FUN honestly!

  9. I haven’t skated since I was first pregnant with Kyle…but DH has just started playing Sunday morning hockey with my Dad (thank you Dad for getting him started…now he’s obsessed with hockey and that’s all I hear about LOL). But it works out nice since then I go into town to Church (rather than the small one here…remember I had said about no Sunday School and was thinking of going to a different one here just so Kyle got some interaction). Well he doesn’t go to Sunday School, because I like to get something out of the Mass, but at least if I need to go downstairs when he’s fussy, there are kids down there and he has a blast. Anyways, my Dad also got him started on a Tuesday noontime hockey (and now that DH is on nights for a few weeks my Dad’s trying to get him to come to Thursday lunch hour hockey)…

    I haven’t seen “A Christmas Card” but I will have to look for it! I’ve been meaning to go out and rent “Facing the Giants” like you suggested too, but haven’t yet. And today I got my christianbook.com catalog in the mail and I saw it for $15…so I might just have to order it…you said it was a keeper anyhow!

  10. Well, hockey should be a pretty good way to keep in shape! So WTG for your dad and hubby. :) And for you, for branching out, I know that getting adjusted in a new church is hard, it takes time to feel at home sometimes.

    Yes! I’d say FTG’s is a keeper, we’ve already loaned ours out to two other families, and miss it! My daughter and I are trying not to hound their aunt about watching it and getting it back to us! 😉

  11. Oh my, there’s nothing like Mel Gibson in the Patriot. I saw that in the theater with my girlfriend and we were laughing so hard because although Mr. Gibson has always been someone to swoon over, his movie son in The Patriot, Heath Ledger, was amazingly attractive. Well, we realized that Mr. Gibson was our age, and Mr. Ledger was the age of our eldest son’s and we giggled thru the whole tearjerking movie. We didn’t feel that we were allowed to swoon over a hero so young…
    But, they loved their women and families enough to fight and die for them. They had faults like the father wanting to bury his head in the sand because of grief, and the son wanting to fight too quickly. But as the story unfolds, they are so sweetly honorable, strong, smart, and single minded for a good cause, the story was magical. And Mel Gibson’s father role with his little girl he had to win over even made my husband cry. That never happens.
    My daughter Jessica loves Mr. Knightly in Emma. He’s honorable, a best friend, willing to say hard things, and a perfect gentleman. Maybe too perfect, but none the less her favorite hero. She says he reminds her of daddy, my husband:) Mr. Knightly’s noble cause was to teach Emma be gracious, generous and a good example to those who look up to her, because of her station in life. And he was the perfect example himself, and yet quiet and humble…nice.

  12. Cena! I’ve been wanting to email you and catch up on Jessica news! 😉 So glad you weighed in on this subject.

    Heath Ledger first caught my eye in A Knight’s Tale, and you’re right, in Patriot, he makes a wonderful hero. So young and bold, so sure of himself. With those black inky teeth, lol. Sad to hear how life ended for him.

    Now Mr. Knightley….I’d forgotten what a wonderful hero he was! I must get that movie and watch it again…it’s been way too long. Jessica has VERY good taste in heroes, that is so special that he reminds her of her dad. The hero that reminds me of my hubby in certain ways, is Jim, in The Man From Snowy River. Though I couldn’t believe the sequel had him living with Jessica w/o marriage! That really turned me off, whereas we loved the first movie. I just didn’t think his character would have settled for that, no matter how awful his father in law would have been over them getting married.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Cena!

  13. Mary, sorry I got back late on this, my bad?

    Come to my house I have all of those movies and more. We could have a movie fest with lots of your great cooking and baking, lol!

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