Character Types: Hero

Feb 20, 2014 by

Keeping up with my character development theme I’m starting this new series where I’ll discuss in short posts different character types and tips to writing them.

Do you like my superhero? I drew him myself.

Do you like my superhero? I drew him myself.

I should start by clarifying that I’m not talking about protagonists but a heroic person no matter what role they have in the story; but first I have to ask:

What is a hero?

There are two ways a person can be heroic; for who they are or for what they’ve done.

The first has a big heart and wants to help even if never put in a situation to do so; they probably do small good acts all the time like opening a door for someone. They’re the sort of person to help someone in need so they can easily become like the second type (I love these by the way).

There are different degrees of this, for example someone could want to help but a busy life or disapproving people get in the way; someone could go a little out of their way or they could be the sort to drop everything and go a lot out of their way.

Then there’s type two, because it’s the acts themselves that make them heroes they can be complete jerks to everyone else but that doesn’t make saving an entire town not heroic. Their personalities can range from bleeding hearts to cold jerks and their motives from honorable to glory seeking, doesn’t matter, their actions alone are why they’re heralded as heroes.

Of course this makes pretty much all of them end up the second type so to be less confusing I’m going to say here that anyone with a heroic personality without or before the deed is type one and anyone with a less honorable personality or only acts heroic after the deed is type two.

Another way you could classify heroes is with this great quote from William Shakespeare:

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

Things to remember while writing your hero

No matter how heroic they are remember that no one’s perfect; it’s the flaws that are more interesting and relatable anyway; so make sure they have flaws and make sure you show them. However if you just play up their flaws and downplay their good you’ll degrade their hero status; just make sure you’re showing both sides to them.

They should have two struggles, an internal one, a problem within themselves, this will be the more relatable one that will make your character more likable; and an external one, such as the villain, this is the more entertaining one; it’s good to balance them and have arcs that deal with both.

If they’re the first type and end up saving the day make sure to show how they were already heroes.

Most importantly think about what makes a true hero to you; is it more to do with motive or actions? Ends or means? Then play that aspect up and make sure to show your side; it will make a more deep, compelling, honest story.

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