I’ve been struggling with the essence of my second hero. and maybe the problem is that this character is closer to a buddy than a lead. at least for now. I don’t subscribe to the idea that best friends must be tropes and boring just to make the main hero all the more special. Both heroes have their own journeys, which happen to overlap and then align.
Sisyphus between Hades and Persephone in Land of the Dead
I’m wary of the over-special leads. I have read far too much fanfic and even published fic where the lead can strip and rebuild a landspeeder, slay a demon, have a vampire and Martian have the hots for them, pick up a double ended falchion they’ve never used before and use it to filet a dragon, all before they turn eighteen. Competence in a specific skill/knowledge, maybe two is believable, but too many leads can do it all, even if they bitch about their injuries when they recover with their many bedpartner(s). Stories are much more interesting and believable when it’s not easy. Writers and readers usually want the heroes to win, but too much ability and trivial opposition is boring, even aggravating to read.
What makes opposition more interesting is if it is not all from outside problems: fears of heights or blood, ignorance, overconfidence, or the more tricky cruel streak that loses allies as fast as they are gained. Now the one lead in my one story has flaws and problems, however the buddy has been partly created as not-X to the more complete hero. That means I’m missing that one essence to make the buddy real. The overall plot is there, but he’s boring. And why would a boring friend be valuable or necessary to the story? My buddy is not yet the right hero for the job. And my muse refuses to get started revising until I can answer that problem.
The saving grace is that I have until the end of the month to figure this out.
Image courtesy Carole Raddato
Writing has had to take a back seat of late due to another commitment, but ideas for problem areas have continued even in exile from my writing. This exile has only been broken by a flashfic from an irritated muse. I don’t know about other writers, but my muse is ONE WHO MUST BE OBEYED… or at least appeased. My NaNo writing has been back-burnered because I know the draft has parts I like, but I can see it has intimidating problems. Sadly professional editing is far beyond the budget and finding a good beta is risky and infrequent. Come July I will take another stab at it along with the bootstrap classes of Holly Lisle.
Enough with the writing side street, how can you deal with your heroes and characters and as archetypes in fiction? Some have action, some have angst, some have lost loves that fly off in a plane, it’s not really the setting that makes their core values, what makes them a hero. The hero who defends a remote space station from an alien attack is very different than a guardian of portals that separate the fey from the modern world. They all have their lessons to learn from the events that get in their way in their stories. I’ve played with different hero characters so far and choosing the right one can be tricky. I’m concerned that I don’t want to get too repetitive. Sometimes I want a hero who isn’t already in my roster from earlier stories: Noble knight, cynical bastard, hardened innocent, rebel, doomed lynchpin, commander, pragmatic survivor… they all have their places but there are other archetypes. A hero in my delayed tale isn’t any of those, he hasn’t quite gelled enough to have a voice and that is frustrating because he’s almost there.
Maybe I’ll hang a ‘help wanted’ sign in the window of my agency of heroes… wonder who will apply?
Image courtesy photologue_np