1. Smithy
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    Smithy Senior Member

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    Fantasy Hero

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Smithy, May 13, 2008.

    I'm becoming a bit worried that I never really explain why my main character is the man to defeat the villain.

    His name is Michael, he becomes embroiled in the fight by accident (his sister "happens" to be the dead spit of the villains dead lover, and he's basically hoping to do a swap) he has no special powers, reasonable fighting skills and he's thick as two short planks. The only explanation that is ever offered for "Why him?" is this: "you have the necessary qualities of stubborn blood mindedness, absolute self righteousness and pig headedness that this battle requires; otherwise known as indomitability, conviction and a refusal to bow to pressure. In short you're exactly who I need." is this a good enough explanation or does he need to have something more?
     
  2. Darkthought
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    Darkthought Active Member

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    I'd say that is just fine. Stuborness in itself can be its own special power of sorts. It doesn't always need to be magic or some kind of sword.
     
  3. MumblingSage
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    MumblingSage Contributing Member

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    Good. He's not destined and he's not a Marty Stu. I'll take a dozen, please :D.

    Arthur Penhaligon from Garth Nix's 'Keys to the Kingdom' series was chosen for his task because he happened to be destined to die on a certain day. He was chosen at random then from the people set to die. I enjoy 'random' as a way to choose a character; there's a sort of quirkyness to it I like, and there's also the hope that I might randomly become a hero in my own life...which I don't have when I'm told you have to be born with magical powers or the sixth daughter of a seventh son, or whatever.

    Just make sure he does show his sympathetic qualities so the reader doesn't get sick of him being thick-headed.
     
  4. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Hehe. I like it. A story with a moron as the main character sounds quite original (NB: when I say moron in this context, I mean moronic relative to the rest of humanity).
     
  5. Avian
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    Avian Member

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    So there is actually no reason why it's him? Because then, surely, he does it only by chance... or if he's dumb, I suppose...
     
  6. Silver1
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    Silver1 Member

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    Sounds like a suicide mission. He's the only one dumb enough to agree to do it?
     
  7. Smithy
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    Smithy Senior Member

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    It depends what you mean by reason. There's no reason in the sense that there is no ancient prophecy foretelling that 'Lo, Michael shall rise up and kick ass mightily and thus shall the Empire be saved!' but it becomes apparent over the course of the story that, as a result of his upbringing, his situation, his character, he is the Man for the Hour even if it was a bit of a coincidence.
     
  8. MumblingSage
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    MumblingSage Contributing Member

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    Every man in the real world who becomes a man of the hour does so by coincidance. It's not a bad thing--acutally, in a genre already wormy with cliches, it's a breath of fresh air.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Well, at least partly by coincidence. People find themselves in a situation where action is needed. For example, a few months ago a platform full of subway commuters watched in horror as a man suffered a seizure and fell between the rails with a train entering the station.

    One stranger chose to act. He jumped down on top of the other man and held him flat (and away from the high voltage third rail) as the train clattered over them, with only a couple inches of clearance. Both men survived with no major injuries, but left alone, the first man would have almost certainly be killed.

    No one blames the rest of the commuters for not acting - they will never be branded as cowards. And if no one had acted, the news would simply have been of another tragedy.

    But because of one man's brave, even foolish, choice, a hero entered the spotlight. Not because of destiny, or because he set out that day to save someone, but because of how he responded when a situation was before him.
     
  10. MumblingSage
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    MumblingSage Contributing Member

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    Good point, Cogito. I guess by saying it's merely coincidance I'm ignoring an essential part of any hero's character: the willingness to act.
     
  11. BluePaladin
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    BluePaladin Member

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    The way I see it, a main character does not need "destiny" if they have their own reason to fight. If you can explain why he's involved in the conflict, then his lack of special powers and ancient prophecies can be easily overlooked.

    You say he became involved in "the fight" by accident, but why is he still participating in said struggle? He's thick-headed, so I assume he wouldn't just go along with it without motivation. Is his life/the lives of those he loves/the world/etc. in danger? Does he have some sort of personal connection to the villain; are they relatives/former rivals/former lovers/etc?
     
  12. Al B
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    Al B Senior Member

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    Maybe he nurtures the idea that, because he is no Einstein, the fight offers him the chance to become something special? Even stupid people have dreams.

    Al
     
  13. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    No fantasy heroes require a destiny or prophecy. They can choose to do something, be driven to do something, do something out of plain foolishness, or do something coincidentally.
    However, in novels 'coincidences' do not go down too well with the reader, so I advise you to decide at least partially on another reason, also.
     
  14. Smithy
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    Smithy Senior Member

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    The way it goes is basically this:

    Michael lives with his sister Miranda. They need money because their late father's creditors are threatening to hound them through the courts. Gideon Commenae (man on a mission) offers cash they desperately in exchange for a roof over his head for a couple of nights.

    That night, Gideon explains what he's doing in this provincial backwater: there is a very old plot coupon nearby that he wants. He won't say why, but Michael assumes he must want to sell it and so goes with Gideon the next morning so that they can split the profits between them.

    No sooner have they done this then the villain's henchmen try and kill Gideon and nick the plot coupon. Gideon survives, the plot coupon gets nicked, and being red blooded males to a man the henchmen decide to take his sister with them too. Michael pursues.
     
  15. seantrott
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    seantrott Member

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    Judging from your last post, it seems fine. I mean, when someone is destined by some stupid prophecy or something, it can ruin the story. Obviously, it can help epic tales along, but for a story to be good it doesn't need a fancy destiny or anything. As long as the reader understands that the MC has some purpose or motivation, it will be fine. Just make sure he has a reason. Coincidence is okay, but in a plot-driven fantasy novel where he has to fight the big bad guys, coincidence doesn't always work out with the readers.
     
  16. Fluxhavok
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    Fluxhavok Active Member

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    i hate stories based on prophecy.
     
  17. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    Wow. Useful post, Fluxhavok.

    Coincidence, carrying on Seantrott's concept, is only useful when it can be. If the story is humourous, the fact that the careless waiter trips on the losing dice and they come up winning, and thus the heroes win their house back from the casino owner, is acceptable. Bonus points if the waiter's tray of puddings end up on the casino owner, or better, his mafia connection's representative. However, in a serious drama, this kind of plot device comes across as hackneyed.

    But that's not the point of all this. If your hero is an idiot, who's only strength is in his brute determination, you will need to make that a positive feature from the get-go. Have him stare down an angry vicar; have him pull a friend out of a room full of angry allies of Gideon, despite being hammered on the whole time; have him slog through three feet of mud for twenty minutes to get to the plot coupon. Make sure the reader knows that this man is a fricken' donkey when it comes to opposition.
     

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