Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Great Hero

This is a repost from 2008...


Boy, do I love heroes. Especially the dark and brooding ones. But whether moody, cold, or boy next door, heroes should have one thing in common.
They're NEVER perfect.
A good hero needs some flaws. Not necessarily anything truly evil and not something annoying. But something to make them real. Something to make their sacrifice/choice/good deed truly heroic.
Being a hero shouldn't be easy. It should come with a price.
I wrote earlier about the movie 3:10 to Yuma. The villain helped the hero out by getting on the train to go to jail, but it wasn't a heroic move. At first glance, or if you'd missed some dialogue, you might think so. But the villain, good old Ben Wade, (yes, the mark of a great character is that days later I still remember his name) is not a hero for a reason. He'd already admitted to escaping from that particular jail before. Twice.
So his actions, while making him likeable, did not make him heroic. There was no real cost.
Dan (the hero), on the other hand, is giving up everything. For what? His honor? The respect of his boy? Justice? What creates a truly compelling hero are his choices throughout the story. When things get tough, when he's torn between his weaknesses, his needs, and what he knows is right, he chooses the good way.
Makes me think of Jeremiah 6:16
". . . ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."
Want an incredible hero? Flaw him, hurt him, and then have him choose the right way.

How do you write an awesome hero? Who is your real-life hero? Your favorite fictional hero?

25 comments:

Diane said...

Daniel Day-Lewis portrayed a hero pretty well in Last of the Mohicians. Great analysis of what makes a hero "work."

Jessica Nelson said...

Eeeek!!! Diane, that is absolutely my favorite movie in the world, and yes, I TOTALLY LOVE him in that movie. ;-)

Irritable Mother said...

Ooo! I'm not perfect. I have flaws!
Does that mean I can be a hero, too?
*grin*

Jaime said...

Who doesn't LOVE a good hero. Yummy. Like coffee laced with chocolate and a hint of amaretto. Okay. I'm drooling. My real-life hero is my Grandpa who fought all years in WWII and was the Spiritual Patriarch of our family.

How do I WRITE an awesome hero? I'm still trying to figure that out lol

Great post, Jess! (going to conf in Sept????)

Julie Jarnagin said...

My husband is my real-life hero. He's a wonderful daddy and husband.

Erica Vetsch said...

Real life hero...my husband.

Favorite fictional hero...Alexander Kinloch from Dick Francis's novel To The Hilt.

Jessie Oliveros said...

I've been thinking the same thing about my heroes lately...one in particular...he is just too good and witty and clever. He needs to be brought down.

Jessica Nelson said...

Jessie, LOL! Bring him down. :)

Erica, that's so sweet about your hubby. I've never read the book you mention, but I think you've talked about it before?

Julie, your husband too? Wow! I'm impressed with all the super-hubbies out there. *grin*

Jessica Nelson said...

Karen, I bet there are tons of ladies out there who think of you as a heroine!

Hahaaa, Jaime, you're makinig me drool.
I wish I was going in Sept. *sigh* If you want, you can pray my husband sells a million-dollar house, and then I could go. LOL

Patti said...

I loved that movie, what a great example. I love a good hero, but they can't be too awesome. It seems we always have to balance things as writers. The pacing needs to be fast, but not too fast. The characters need to have flaws, but not too many.

Katie Ganshert said...

Favorite fictional hero is Marcus Valerian, who is most definitely flawed.

Oh, and Edward Cullen. Yep. I like me some Edward. :)

Jeanette Levellie said...

No one who reads this blog will know this movie, I'll bet a Hershey bar, but I love the old classic, "A Tale of Two Cities."

The guy who gives his life at the guillotine in place of a convicted man whom he resembles, is my kind of hero. Especially considering that he does it so the lady he loves can marry the convict, after she rejected the hero. Wow.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Okay. I asked my DH, who is my real life hero, about the above person. The character is Sidney Carton; the actor who plays him is Ronald Coleman.

Jeanette Levellie said...

See why my DH is my hero? He knows everything. Not really. I'm just saying that cuz it's his BD today. Okay, I'll go now and quit hogging all the comment coupons.

Angie Muresan said...

Just as long as they're charmingly flawed.

Talli Roland said...

Great question! I think they do need to have flaws that we can all relate to - but they overcome them to triumph in the end!

Jessica Nelson said...

Jeanette, you're too funny! I actually watched that movie at school in eighth grade and yes, his sacrifice was amazing. A beautiful love story. ;-)

Angie, lol, charming is, imo, debatable. *grin*

Relatability...good point Talli. That's the point of flaws in our characters, right?

Linda Kage said...

I'm definitely going to have to check this movie out. Sounds interesting.

Karen Lange said...

Thanks for sharing this, even if it is a repeat. I hadn't read it before, so it's all new to me:)
Blessings for the weekend,
Karen

Angela said...

Heroes are heroic because they see their flaws, not their strengths, and simply do the best they can. Great post!

T. Anne said...

Jesus is my real life hero. He's very uncomplicated in a complicated sort of way ;)

Nancy said...

When you mentioned hero, I immediately thought of Sydney Carton in A Tale Of Two Cities. So I'm going with Jeanette here. Didn't see the movie, read the book. I seem to remember he was sort of lazy, but what an ending.

I also like Sam in The Lord of the Rings. He has tons of flaws, yet he persevered and became a hero, a quiet one.

Great post.

patti said...

I LOVE flawed characters that still have a great passion for something or someone (like Scarlett O'Hara for her land) and are altered tremendously by the end of the book, film, etc.

Scarlett!!!
patti

Tabitha Bird said...

Lovely post. Heros? Hmmm... my husband is one of my heros. And God. He is my biggest hero :)

anita said...

What a great post! You know how much a sucker I am for the flawed hero. Heh. I also like a flawed heroine. It just makes them more real, relatable, and sympathetic as characters.

How do I write a flawed hero? Well, I give him something painful in his past that has led to some weakness in his present which he'll have to overcome for the heroine in some way.

Who's my real life hero? My sweet hubbie-pie.

Fave fictional hero? I would have to say Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre. He is SO flawed and wounded, yet his love for Jane so heart-wrenchingly desparate, he lies to her about something monumental from his past then ends up losing her for his efforts. He practically wastes away while pining for her until she finally comes back, at last making him whole. Sigh...