Nov 17 2012

What Makes a Hero?

Published by at 10:00 pm under Character Development,Plotting

In Skyfall, M remarks offhandedly that “orphans always make the best recruits” as secret agents. She doesn’t explain, but I would infer that she means that commitment matters more than anything else in her line of work, and that a person with a family won’t be as fully committed because they somewhere to leave to and may have been raised with more inhibitions than someone with a harder upbringing.

 

In your story, are there any traits or demographic characteristics which are unusually important for your heroes (or villains)? In particular, if you have a team of heroes, what are they looking for when they choose members? (For example, what should a superhero team be looking for besides superpowers? If a team takes random people off the street on life-or-death missions because they happen to have superpowers, does that strike anybody involved as desperate and/or crazy? If not, why not?) If you have a main hero, does he/she have the trait in question? If not, how does he/she get around that?

10 responses so far

10 Responses to “What Makes a Hero?”

  1. Goaton 19 Nov 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Your post reminds me of an article by Shannon Hale. You both bring up similar points about plotting, characterization, and dead parents. http://oinks.squeetus.com/2012/05/where-are-all-the-moms.html

  2. Aj of Earthon 19 Nov 2012 at 6:13 pm

    I think the single most important trait that “makes a hero” is accountability; that is, purposefully owning what’s makes us who we are, owning decisions already made and the responsibility to do what’s best down the line even if its not what’s desired. It’s my opinion that a character doesn’t become a hero until that threshold has been crossed, and that everything leading up to that is simply the foundation upon which a hero, once made, is built.

    In fact that’s the principal theme of my novel – that only by looking within and taking responsibility for oneself (being accountable) can a single individual change the fate of the world.

    IMO, of course…

    Dig it.

  3. Aj of Earthon 19 Nov 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Now concerning my MC, accountability is something he develops over the course of the novel; both personally (e.g. his decisions/actions moving forward and [super importantly] his PAST…) as well as with his powers (telepathy/Psionics). It’s a double-whammy issue for him, and one that can’t be side-stepped or short-cut.

    Ultimately it’s a matter of choice, and not just the right choice, but the right choice for the right reason. Something that proves to be easier said than done…

  4. Dr. Vo Spaderon 19 Nov 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Wow, Arj. That sounds great! With my protagonist, accountability isn’t a issue. He claims to others that he is simply altruistic, but in truth his primary motivation is ambition. It leads him to make many of his mistakes.

  5. Dr. Vo Spaderon 19 Nov 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Looking at that, it seems a little sarcastic. (First two sentances.) Sorry if it came off that way. :)

  6. Aj of Earthon 19 Nov 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Not at all! So cool, does your character feel any particular way about spinning himself to those he knows? Ambition in what regard?

  7. Dr. Vo Spaderon 19 Nov 2012 at 9:22 pm

    With people he knows, there really isn’t an attempt to spin himself. Most of them know him quite well. His particular brand of ambition is the want of fame. He feels the need to be known by EVERYBODY. When people think of him, they think “the brother of” instead of just him. (His step-brother, unlike him, is quite famous.) He wants his own glory.

  8. Wilon 20 Nov 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Wow it’s very interesting to see the different types of motivations you guys came up with for your hero. I’m going to throw a third one into the mix because it seems fitting.

    In the case of my hero(ine), her parents are both alive and are living a happy, peaceful existence. Thankfully, the story is not about her relationship with her parents because that would be boring!

    Her motivation to become a hero(ine) came AFTER she had used her powers for ill. In fact, a particularly traumatizing incident where hundreds of lives were lost; were what finally set her straight into making that transition into a super-heroine. Where as, prior to the incident, she was fueled mainly by revenge.

  9. Derp Writeron 20 Nov 2012 at 2:28 pm

    “I think the single most important trait that “makes a hero” is accountability; that is, purposefully owning what’s makes us who we are, owning decisions already made and the responsibility to do what’s best down the line even if its not what’s desired. It’s my opinion that a character doesn’t become a hero until that threshold has been crossed, and that everything leading up to that is simply the foundation upon which a hero, once made, is built.”

    While reading this post I thought of the possibility of a hero who starts on the path of upholding the law, no matter their personal feelings on it, until he/she comes across a situation (like someone who deserves to die, but is legally innocent) where he/she chooses to follow their moral compass instead of the laws regarding said situation and is then forced to flee from their former life as an instrument of the law. The hero is then taken in by the villain, who made a similar decision before the beginning of the story.

    I came up with it while reading your post, I figured you should know about it, as I feel it is as much your idea as it is mine.

  10. Marion Harmonon 20 Nov 2012 at 10:17 pm

    In my stories superheroing can be socially and monetarily remunerative, so there are as many selfish motivations for putting on the cape as selfless ones. I suppose personal bravery might be as close to a universal trait as any–but there are different degrees even there, from afraid but determined to experienced and utterly confident. And the superhero that is afraid but determined is more interesting.

Comments RSS

Leave a Reply