In writing, the hero (or heroine) is the main character of the story–the person the story is about. And we already know that a story is about someone with a problem — someone who wants something but can’t quite get it until they face the obstacle that stands in their way and figure out a way to overcome.
That’s why stories are a part of every culture. We all have obstacles. We all desire to overcome them in order to obtain something better.
We need heroes to show us how.
Without them, we stay stuck in “Act 1” of our own stories — frustrated, running from our problems, hiding, and waiting for someone else to be our hero.
In the last lesson, we considered storytelling as a calling, a ministry. Not too long ago a friend was hurting. He said, “Please tell me there’s hope — that God is real and that following Him changes things.” My friend was asking for a story — one with a happy ending. A story that could show him how to get beyond his “dark moment” and finally obtain what he desperately desired.
He needed a hero.
As you craft your characters into heroes and heroines, then, there are some important things to remember.
- A hero who inspires hope is one who faces their own issues instead of waiting for someone to come do the work for them.
- A great hero also manages to help or inspire others in the process.
- No hero is perfect. If they were, they would give us no hope at all, because we know that we are flawed.
- A hero who overcomes his external obstacles but never overcomes his internal obstacles — his flaws — may grow tiresome. We like to see some progress, some growth.
- In showing human flaws, do not forget that the hero must also be an example worthy of following. (Some writers deliberately expose or invent faults in their heroes to overshadow the good they do. Such writers usually have a thinly-veiled agenda.)
- As a Christian writer, remember that in most stories the hero has a mentor who enables him to be more than he was before.
Every culture needs heroes. If we do not find them in our traditions, we will look for them elsewhere.
The example of our heroes shapes what we admire and what we become.
What an important role writers have! By creating exemplary heroes, we play a part in shaping the future!
Consider the hero or heroine of your story.
- What does he/she want?
- Why does he/she want it?
- What obstacles must he/she overcome to obtain it?
- How does the obstacle relate to his/her human flaws and fears?
- Where will he/she find the strength to overcome?