1. Gunslinger362
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    Gunslinger362 Member

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    A Hero

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Gunslinger362, Oct 11, 2009.

    I'm new here for the most part and currently going through a severe case of writers block. I want to try a few ideas to maybe spark something,anything at this point. First idea I've been wrestling with is the concept of a hero so I'm curious to hear peoples opinions on heroes. You know, what makes them and where they come form. Like ones who are mysterious or have some complex back story. Things like that.
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    When you say "hero", do you mean to say "main character"? The MC doesn't necessarily need to be the hero. He even doesn't need to have hero-like qualities.

    If you are speaking of a hero in the more traditional sense, then I would say that people have different opinions on what constitutes a hero. Keep in mind that while people like Superman are heroes, people like firefighters and cops are also heroes. Even something as little as climbing a tree and retrieving a kite can make someone a hero.

    I'm not sure if that answered your question; I was merely thinking out loud.
     
  3. Gunslinger362
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    Gunslinger362 Member

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    Not talking about the main character exactly, just the concept of a hero in general. Left it kinda vague to get different interpretations of people's idea of a hero. Thanks for your post
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    How much research have you done? There is a wealth of information on the Internet. As your question stands, it really is too broad for here. You need to do some research on your own first, and then narrow down your question.
     
  5. Gunslinger362
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    Gunslinger362 Member

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    Depends your definition of research, I've just read alot of stories revolving around this one epic figure and always wanted to create something like it. Maybe it is too broad but always thought if people heard the word hero, something comes up. Whether it was superman, or a soldier, or even just a normal guy standing up for what he belives in. I'll look deeper into on my own time and maybe come up with something.
     
  6. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    My favorite kind of hero would be the type who know the odds suck, they know that before the day is done they will probably be six feet under. Knowing this, they try and save the day anyways. They are not forced into this posistion, they do not have some prophecy about it. They do it because its what they believe is right.

    As for backstory it can be anything from being a janitor at a local highschool to being ex military. But personally I enjoy the idea of someone trying to correct his wrongs from the past. Maybe he wasn't always selfless, but had a change of heart when he realized what he has done.

    Not sure if this is what you are looking for. But its my 2 cents. :)
     
  7. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Cool heroes. Paul Muad'dib. I think that's the spelling. Prometheus. Luke Skywalker.

    A cool book to read on the subject is The Hero With a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell. Be prepared to use the dictionary, though.
     
  8. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    My definition of a hero would be someone who's noble, caring, wise, intelligent... I guess. There are all types of heroes out there. Really, someone who doesn't succeed, but who has the will alone to succeed. In fact, a hero can even be someone who merely has good intentions and plans on putting them into action. A hero doesn't need to have a cape or has to succeed. They just have to try in the most noble way.

    But then you'd need my definition of noble and that's going off-topic. I hope I was able to help.
     
  9. Nobeler Than Lettuce
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    Nobeler Than Lettuce Contributing Member

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    In "He was a Quiet Man," the hero was a schizophrenic mid level paper pusher. He talked to his goldfish which was cast as his alternate personality. Anyway, he'd planned to shoot up the whole office one day and it just so happened that someone else had planned the same thing. Weird. During the shooting, a female employee was struck in the back. The quiet man liked her smile, so he gunned down his foil. Come to find out, the female employee was only turned quadriplegic by her wound. She at first spits and cusses, but then later falls in love with the quiet man. The story ends when he shoots himself.

    I guess the point is heroes put their pants on one leg at a time, just like you.
     
  10. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think superheroes are fantastically uninteresting. It's no big feat to be heroic if you have superpowers, in fact it totally dilludes the heroism. Superheroes seem like propaganda characters to me, because everything about them is one-sided. And actually, superheroes did once serve as propaganda, giving common people an ideal and a motivation for wasting their life away in some megalomanic ruler's wars. From Achilles to Superman.

    Warrior-heroes today are an echo of the past. I think they serve no real purpose. Most of us now know that war sucks and is a waste of life. We know that there are no real good and no real evil, just greed, prejudice and zealotry in different colors. Taleban suicide-bombers are hailed as warrior-heroes by the other team.

    I much prefer to read about human heroes. They don't save the world with a swing of a sword. Perhaps they never even accomplish anything great in the objective sense, but what they do is a great feat by their own standards.

    Consider Oskar Schindler. He wasn't granted superpowers by the gods, going ahead to defeat Hitler in some epic duel. Hell, the man was a nazi party member. In the end he saved just 1200 people out of 6 million, which is just a grain of sand in a desert. But consider for a moment what the man risked... He had all of the best the Third Reich had to offer, were he faithful to his party. He had everything to lose, were he not. He chose to risk everything he owned, including his life, for what he felt was the right thing to do. That's what defines a hero to me. Someone who's conscience rules stronger than any bribe. In a sense, that might actually be a superpower... It's rare enough to be.
     
  11. AmandaC
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    AmandaC Member

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    To me a hero is someone who strives to do good even if it means they don't get credit for it. I think the most interesting heros are the complicated, conflicted or quirky ones.
     
  12. Agreen
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    Agreen Faceless Man Contributor

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    As was mentioned previously in the thread, if you want a book which explores the theme of the hero in greatest detail across cultures, check out The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Any research into the subject is incomplete without reading it.

    Also, here's a few works which I think either have helped define what we consider as heroic or present heroic characters in interesting situations- The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Aeneid.
     
  13. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    Honestly heroes have been a painted picture for us by birth. A good example of this is the old superman, batman, etc cartoons. All sorts of media, whether it be television or books paints a super hero to be a strong character with a cape and a secret identity. Very rarely are they painted out to be simple humans that just do their job, i.e like cops or firefighters.

    I personally, don't view heroes as such. Heroes are, to me, just simple things that do what they must not because someone else is telling them to, but because it is their own choice.

    Another thing is, heroes are always painted to be these good standing people/creatures, i.e angels and such. In one of my works the heroes are actually what would often be considered the "bad guy". In fact, the three man characters are a demon male, a demon/vampire crossbreed, and a werewolf. There are often points in the story where they openly state that they don't view themselves as heroes, rather everyday people that's living out their life.
     
  14. Little Miss Edi
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    Little Miss Edi Contributing Member

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    Gunslinger362 - you've got one of my favourite heroes as your avatar!!

    Cool, calm, flawed and deadly - love it!!
     
  15. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    It doesn't matter what we think a hero is. We're not writing your book. You have to choose the qualities that matter to you and are necessary for what you want to achieve. Since it is such a broad topic, you might as well do whatever the heck you want. There will be an audience for it.
     
  16. Nackl of Gilmed
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    Nackl of Gilmed Member

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    As Angel says in the tv show Angel, heroes live as if the world were the way it should be, to show it what it can be. Actually he says champions, but I believe the message is more or less the same.

    Or, if you go off the promotional posters for the latest season of the tv show Heroes, heroes are people who pose their hands as if they're using Jedi Mind Tricks.
     
  17. Joran Selemis
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    Joran Selemis Member

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    The definition of a hero changes with time. I think Yahtzee said it best when he did an imaginary review of 'Duke Nukem Forever' and claimed that although Duke Nukem's usual style of killing things and then getting it on with women was great in the 90s in this decade people expect a more three-dimensional character.

    Heroes are, basically, anyone we look up to. This might be as simple as a politician or a role model or as complex as a comic book character. Regardless, the hero is whoever you want him to be, and it's not always a bad idea to have the reader question whether the main character is really the hero or the villain.
     
  18. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    Heroes come in many flavors. I go for character-based writing, so that's the bias you'll have to work with.

    You can have a hero who is considered heroic because he can do awesome stuff. This is a relatively weak character; he isn't a moral person necessarily, but he can blow up the bad guy so people Lurve Him. (*laaaaame*) Give him a character and he's better.

    So, have a hero who can do awesome stuff - but not because the Author Said So. Maybe it's because he's spent twenty years training, and now when Inigo Montoya - uh, I mean Random Hero - beats everyone with his sword, the readers are okay with it because he's spent years working up to this point.

    Or have a hero who is considered heroic because he made a good choice at great personal cost. Tragedy, after all, is when someone makes the choice between two good things. What if your hero is a king who led the charge to save his country, knowing that his children (who were being held hostage) would die? What if your hero chose to stand up against a tyrant knowing that the political ramifications would include alienating him from his friends and possibly family? If the hero is sent to prison and his family persecuted because he made the *right* choice and prevented four hundred innocents from dying, I'm interested. I want to know how that choice affects the hero, how it affected him then and what he said and did in the moments leading up to that choice.

    You can have a hero who is, in many respects, a jerk. What if someone just wants to become famous, so he joins the secret intellegence service or the local mage's guild? Contrast him with a different kind of hero - one who has lost quite a bit while trying to do the right thing - and you have one heck of a story.

    Various Examples:

    Schindler took risks to save hundreds of people who would have otherwise died. He knew that discovery would likely mean his own arrest and ruin. He was not a perfect man, but he was a brave one, and we honor him for it.

    A sneak who disables equipment and poisons the enemy's water may not be "heroic" but they may succeed at protecting people. You can write them either way - as a dirty rotten saboteur, or as a noblehearted and clever hero. Heroes can be subtle too.

    A man who has put the past away - who was once a hero, but no longer thinks of himself that way - can be awesome as a hero if there is sufficient cause to bring him back. I'm trying very hard for this with my character Os. No, he cannot lift a sword - not now. Give him sufficient cause, and he will undo the things preventing him from lifting weapons. Then he will end your miserable butt.

    Also note that heroes are better if they take action. It is easy to preach the good while sitting and doing nothing. Readers will have an easier time tolerating a hero who is active than one who talks without much end result.
     
  19. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, not really :)

    Tragedy is when the protagonist's hamartia causes a reversal of fortune. It can be anything, also the choice between a clearly good and a clearly bad thing; as long as the protagonist's actions result in a loss, and thereby a catharsis for the audience.

    In many classic tragedies, the choice of failure appears to be the right one at first, but this is because the protagonist's perception is flawed. He has stepped into the territory of gods, but doesn't possess the power of gods, and thus cannot predict or control the effect of his actions. The classic plays often contained an underlying warning of not stepping across the line of what mortals can and may do.
     
  20. Sillraaia
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    Sillraaia Senior Member

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    What is a hero. Big question. In essence, I think it all boils down to one thing - he has to somehow go out of his way to help someone else.

    Like someone said, someone rescuing a kid's cat from a tree is that kids hero - and all it cost him was some time.

    However, there higher the stakes, the higher the respect earned for the deed.
    If you want your hero to be recognized as a hero, he at some point, needs to make some kind of decision. That's it.
    How like-able you make him is up to you. Most people, I would think, would choose to write about a more like-able character. Maybe I am wrong - maybe it is only that the more like-able characters are the ones that are written better, and so more of those ones get published / seen by the masses.

    Which also says - it is not the quality of your hero that sells books - it is how you write them. Love your work. Pour your heart into it.
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    What about a character who holds to a moral principle against all odds? Cannot that also be a hero, even if his or her actions do not benefit any specific person?
     
  22. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    That sounds reasonable, Cogito. Although if the character is holding to a moral principle "against all odds," that implies something or someone is trying to make the character break with the moral principle, probably for that someone's benefit.

    If a character, say, refuses to sell out and we consider him heroic for it, he may not have benefited a specific person, but he is honoring something else. So he is benefiting or showing respect to *something* even if that something is not a person.

    Things become interesting when the character holds to a moral principle - readers can support him, but it has to be written such that the readers feel the character is losing something and accepting the loss in order to stick to his morals.
     
  23. Fox Favinger
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    Fox Favinger Contributing Member

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    Yeah these are the kinds of heroes I like.

    But I wonder if my MC in a novel I'm planning out can be considered a hero. His morals deviate heavily from the society he lives in and he sticks to his morals no matter what. In that process though innocents get destroyed and he doesn't care. As punishment he is forced to help destroy their enemies and he triumphs. Then the society starts to see the error in their ways and they need his help in destroying the controlling entity he has been defying his whole life, but in order to do this he is asked to do things both he and the society think are unethical. In the end he saves the day, but he is still the same remorseless deviant bastard he always was. Is he a hero? Or is that up to the reader to decide? Personally I don't really know. That's kinda what has made this character so fun, watching his layers peel back and learning what he really believes and why he does what he does.
     
  24. Robert Lipscombe
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    Robert Lipscombe Member

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    a hero is a person who stands up to what everyone agrees is a threat but which most people prefer to ignore [like ostriches with their heads in the sand] ..or to buy off in some way even though they know this is wrong [ie it makes things worse for everybody in the long run]; this means that the characteristics of your hero will need to complement the precise nature of the consensual threat [so a writer could be a hero by writing certain words about a corrupted judge, a journalist by divulging facts about a powerful politician or gangster - even though neither of these people would be any good in a fist or fire-fight], and a hero needs to have general qualities which everyone [except the threat] can respect and like. Stauffenberg was a hero, but probably only to people who hated Hitler at the time, although subsequently he became a hero across the board. Jesus, obviously, and first and foremost, was a hero in a way in which Buddha was not - just because Jesus stood up to Roman power and indeed to the entrenched and probably corrupted power that ruled his people for and on behalf of the Romans.
     
  25. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    The problem with those kinds of hero narratives are that they are so easy to subvert. All you need to do is make the reader sympathetic to the hero's enemies and the hero himself becomes the enemy; there's nothing that's inherently and universally "heroic," which is why the concept of the Hero is so problematic. It is entirely subjective and dependent on particular social, cultural, political, moral and ethical contexts and constructs.
     

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