1. Josh
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    Josh Member

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    High Fantasy Hero

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Josh, Jul 27, 2009.

    Hi. I was just wondering what, in your own opinion, what should I avoid when creating the hero of a high fantasy story and what should I include?

    Here is what I have so far:
    Name: Alexander Robertson
    Age: 25
    Gender: Male
    Appearance: Dark brown hair, blue eyes, average build.
    Weapon: Arcane Blade ( a hand - a - half sword)
    He is a great leader, very confident, rarely shows fear, only shows his emotions to those he has absolute trust with.

    The story involves him traveling over a Kingdom with two friends roughly his age.
     
  2. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your description is short, but from what you tell us he could seem a bit like Aragorn from LOTR. If you want to avoid fantasy stereotypes then you might wanna stay far away from things LOTR because they've been imitated to death.

    How about not giving him a sword and make him a huge coward? That would make an interesting leader in a story. Lots of conflict in himself and with his companions. It also leaves room for him to grow - perhaps he learns courage through the story.

    Just an idea.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Don't make him get along too well with his friends. Conflict makes characters grow. Have your characters make embarassing mistakes that have lasting consequences.

    And forget about character profiles. A statifc description, no matter how detailed, does nothing to make dynamic, interesting, relatable characters.
     
  4. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    No matter what genre you are writing, what matters is making them individuals.
     
  5. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do not make any character flawless. That's boring and with no room for improvement. They're essentially not a character, just a load of dialogue which equals 'i pwn n00b' and helps to keep the plot moving.
     
  6. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    Or, he could poke fun at it. If, for example, everyone assumes this heroic, wholesome young man is the rightful heir to the throne, come to unite humanity against the forces of darkness, when in reality he doesn't even have a drop of noble blood in him and he really just wants to adventure around with his friends.

    Suppose the Arcane Blade actually did use to belong to the royal family but he just happened to find it. But then someone sees it and is like: "By the Gods! This lad must be the long lost crown prince of the High Kingdom!" And suddenly you have a whole mistaken identity plot.

    I dunno, maybe I just like being contrary, or maybe my definition of "flawless" is different from others, but I'm getting kinda fed up with flawed heroes.

    Really, it's not impossible to make a more or less flawless hero who's still entertaining and interesting. It's just harder to pull off then making a flawed character. I've read some stories that could pull off a hero with no real flaws or weaknesses to speak off just fine.

    Of course, making a character flawless isn't the same thing as making them invincible. At least, not as I see it. Your characters being flawless just means there is nothing in particular wrong with them. You can still have them make mistakes, mess up, get their asses kicked and so on. That doesn't meant they can't be rather idealized people.
     
  7. Josh
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    Josh Member

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    Anders Backlund, I was going towards your idea. He is in the Arcane Kingdom because he is searching for his parents after discovering that something has happened to them (not exactly sure). Renee is his close friend who accompanies him, Edward (the other friend) is met in a city after an event. During his stay in the capital, people tend to whisper as he pass due to the fame his parents created. Of course, this annoys Alex.

    Here's more to Alex:
    He tends to get hot headed when something does not go his way, he hates being vulnerable in terms of emotions (even to his close friend, although there are exceptional situations), he tends to get jealous at times (central to the overall plot). He also tries to find the light side of a dreadful situation, even when it is inappropriate.

    Note: The Arcane Blade happens to be the standard weapon of the Army. It is no special weapon. (should have mentioned that earlier).
     
  8. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    I hate to say this, Josh but your character still seems too much like a plain water cracker; perfectly palatable, but missing a certain zest that makes people want to be involved.[/yahtzee paraphrase]

    Firstly, your character is well into his prime years and is a rugged male with a military setting. He is a natural leader, has a temper, is emotionally vulnerable and tries to remain optimistic in the face of adversity.

    To make a character like this work would take an incredible amount of effort, because you're working with an archetype that has been used to often in such settings that it's now taken quite for granted.

    You don't have to read the specific suggestions below but they all boil down to the same thing: Have a main character that is anything but what he is now. Otherwise you might as well rename him Cloud Strife, James Bond or Indiana Jones. You get the idea.

    ***EVERYTHING FROM THIS POINT ON IS ENTIRELY OPTIONAL***

    Changing the physical aspects could open up some avenues for interesting (and dangerous re: writing) plot developments but it's your MC's attributes that need to change.

    Characters that start off flawless never make an interesting MC. Start your character off as a dependant with his friends so that if/when conflict arises between them their vulnerability is made that much more apparent.

    Now, a lot of people are going to hate me for this but you can still indulge if you want a self-insert character: You need an Obi-wan. Flawless characters are usually put in place as mentors to the main character and either die or turn evil which in turn forces the MC to grow. This is an age-old trick used in narratives that will never get old as long as it is executed properly. Remember to build up the reader's admiration for the character before dropping the hammer for full effect.

    Give the character a tangible vulnerability that they must overcome, maybe even a set of them. Weakness to magic, crippling disease, you name it. MCs need hills to climb over, not just places to go.

    For the love of all that is canon, take away the sardonic humour and - if you MUST have it at all - give it to the mentor. Again, hyper-testosterone-spewing muscle-heads are only popular with one demographic and right now that entire section is playing Prototype and Gears of War 2.

    Best of luck: Do your best.
     
  9. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Um, there are some cases in which perfect characters are interesting. Like Kvothe from The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. Anyway, I prefer the flawed ones. They're easier to make. :D

    One thing you should take into consideration is character development. You can have your character be both fearless with a sword and a coward who tends to avoid fighting. Of course, not simultaneously. Maybe something led your character into becoming the fearless general he is, there are countless factors you can come up with that could count as motivation.
     
  10. OneMoreNameless
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    OneMoreNameless Contributing Member

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    You know, this is High Fantasy we're talking about. The hero doesn't need to be flawed; an idealistic, escapist character can be as appealing as a broken, sympathetic one when well written. The majority of the conflict in the story can come from the struggle between good and evil (being the perfect hero doesn't mean you always physically win), unearthing the conspiracy ... while personal conflict / development can still be present with supporting characters. Successful archetypes are successful archetypes because they work. [Quality of writing, what you enjoy etc. end rant.]

    What you want to avoid is making your character too generic, but you can avoid that by including little details - maybe he loves fish or always sleeps in late, whatever.
     
  11. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, archetypes work. I would just be cautious about using archetypes in the same context as everyone else. Like making a high fantasy story with an Aragorn clone as lead, making a detective in 1800 London using a Sherlock Holmes clone, or a lone gunman in the wild west, wearing a poncho. Then it moves from being archetypes to become cliches or even plagiarism. There's so many archetypes - using them out of their usual context can give them new life. I'd much rather read the high fantasy story combined with the Sherlock Holmes archetype, for example.
     

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