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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

These are the Shoes of Heroes

Yesterday, I mentioned that passion comes from within the author, and not from the plot, setting, characters or voice. That's not to say, though, that it doesn't manifest itself in these elements. In The Fire In Fiction, Donald Maass tells us how to channel our passion and breathe life into these areas of our writing. For the remainder of this week, I'll be talking about putting our passion to work through our characters, starting with our main characters. Mr. Maass discusses the difference between heroes and protagonists. Heroes are larger than life, while protagonists are everyday people. Maass points out that neither is bad, but both should be multi-dimensional. Otherwise, the reader won't care about them. If your main character is a hero, then give him some flaws to make the reader relate to him. On the other hand, if your main character is just an everyday guy, give him some strengths that the reader wishes he had. Mr. Maass goes on to suggest that this should be done in the first five pages. Aye! I really messed up there! My main character was a big, old, everyday wimp. At least until, oh I don't know, like the twenty-first chapter. During my revisions (um, I mean rewrites), this will be a huge focus of mine. So, tell me...who is your main character? Is he a hero or an everyday Joe? Either way, what qualities have you given him to make him endearing to your reader?

41 comments:

Kristi Faith said...

oy! I don't have a hero, really. Well-the MC grows....**groan** now what do I do? :)

Mary said...

My main character is an everyday Joe who on the outside appears frail, but she has an inner strength that sees her through and even the bigger than life heroes are in awe(some grudgingly) of her.

Robyn Campbell said...

My hero is the MC and he is on a quest to discover who killed his mother. It's a mystery. And really fun to write. Leaving clues along the way. :0)

BTW, I am going to start reading it tonight. I fell asleep last night. I don't remember saying good night or anything. Can't wait to reread it though. And I shall report back. :) Thanks for these great posts Susan. Have a super day!

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

I typically write protagonists and not heroes. In my romance, my MC has a lot of inner strength because she's been through quite a tragedy. And my male lead who hmm...is larger than life, so may fall under hero, is highly flawed.

Patti said...

I don't think any of my characters are heros, just everyday people trying to get want they want.

Tamika: said...

I think my writing will, in most cases, reflect a protagonist.

It's interesting to learn their flaws, strengths should be reflected so soon. I will have to rewrite that for sure.

So far my protagonist is strong, and shielded, but she has weaknesses that lurk on the surface if you pay attention to her dialogue.

Stephanie Faris said...

Good advice! I think some of the most interesting characters are those who have quirks. Maybe they're klutzy or have strange compulsions. Like Monk on the TV show. We all relate to his weirdness even if we've never been OCD. It just makes him a little more human.

Janna Qualman said...

My MC is not a heroine in the blatant sense of the word, but I hope she'll be someone readers look up to for the way she learns to live her life, for the love she gives. I hope she'll be relatable.

Angie Muresan said...

Well, she's a heroine to her own family.

Natalie said...

She's just a regular kid, but she's very brave.

Stephanie L. McGee said...

My MC is a regular kid who really is probably a hero, but the heroic elements come secondary to her struggles in her everyday life. She'll be an interesting one to explore.

Great post.

Girl in My Own World said...

My characters are mainly heros, but it is through the things that they overcome that make them that way. They also have flaws too. This was a really great post! Good educational moment! Thanks for sharing! :o)

Julie Dao said...

I don't usually write heroes, but I really want to someday. My main characters are always just protagonists - normal people who are finding their own way in the world. Maybe someday I'll write an epic sword-wielding heroine for one of my stories! :)

I've passed an award on to you at my blog!

strugglingwriter said...

My main character is more of an everyday Jane :)

I like an underdog, so I'm trying for an underdog setup for my character.

Lily Robinson said...

My MC is a victim, but she pulls herself up by the proverbial bootstraps!

Matthew Delman said...

My current MC is a bounty-hunting Archduchess with some hardcore anger issues she has to work through before becoming the hero she's supposed to be.

I tend to write heroes with fairly major flaws built in because that's the kind of story I like to read. It's why I enjoy the Spiderman stories so much; Peter Parker has enough faults to make him a real person instead of a superhero.

Terri Tiffany said...

Oh no--the first five pages??? I want that book. I just devoured his other and this one sounds wondeful!!

Cindy said...

My character is an everyday Joe. I need to work on making the reader sympathetic to her, while still showing her personality. She wants to be good, but she's not so good at it.

Dominique said...

My MC is an everyday sort of girl. She just has enough impetuousness to land herself in some tricky spots.

Paul Greci said...

My MC is a somewhat flawed, disadvantaged boy who just wants to lead a normal life. He puts his heroic (did I spell that right?) qualities to work in his uphill quest for normalcy.

Jill Kemerer said...

My main characters are two sweethearts who each have a few insecurities to overcome. I love them both. It's been so fun writing their story!

Dawn Simon said...

My MC is multidimensional--at least that's what I'm striving for. ;) She's an everyday girl, for the most part, but also kind of a hero.

I bought THE FIRE IN FICTION a couple weeks ago, but I haven't started it yet. I'm looking forward to it. Donald Maass is a smart guy.

Deb@RGRamblings said...

My male MC starts out as an everyday kinda guy, he grows as he's put into situations where he has to be, a bit of a reluctant hero.

Suzyhayze said...

OH MY GOD I HAVE TO HAVE A HERO???? ;)

Anissa said...

The Fire in Fiction was great. Lots to think about. My MC is not a hero, but eventually she will have to find the strength to be heroic.

Tere Kirkland said...

My mc is somewhere in between... she wishes she was ordinary. When the story starts she doesn't realize that she has the potential to be a hero. I'm hoping to show the reader that potential without making it completely obvious to the heroine.

Must pick up Fire in Fiction. I probably re-read Writing the Breakout Novel every month or so.

Beth said...

My MC is an ordinary woman. I think she suffers from the insecurities that most women suffer from, and that is what makes her relateable. :)

Eileen Astels Watson said...

My MC is an ordinary woman with a flair for the dramatic. SHe's high energy, what I wish I could be. But she's so compassionate, too. SHe kicks herself alot because her high energy gets her in lots of trouble!

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I'd like to think that my mc is a hero because of her faith. That's something I really tried to depict in the novel I'm currently editing.

Kate Walton said...

Definitely two everyday Joe's, but with a ton of crappy nonsense to deal with.

~Ellie Kings~ said...

My MC is a victim, a survivor, and views herself more as a regular Jane than a hero. As always,
thanks for the valuable info.

Regina Quentin said...

My MC is an everday sort of woman who is talented and (hopefully) witty. She faces a few tough situations that I imagine any number of people could be going through right now. she also uses her intellect and the help of quirky friends to solve a murder.

Melanie's Randomness said...

this is funny that you brought this up. Are you in my writing group and I just missed you last night? hehe. One of the ladies wrote a short story and we picked apart her main character because the character didn't have enough depth. She called her a rebel but then we were like um, there really isn't any action she does to make her a rebel ya know. I'm currently writing a story in my head, I have only jotted down a few small notes on paper, but it is coming along. The main character is the protagonist, and I'll make sure I give her enough characteristics that she does stand out in a unique way. Very good points, I'm so happy I'm following your blog. Also reading every body's comments is so helpful for someone in the beginning stages of writing. =) I hope you have a good rest of the day.

staceyjwarner said...

My character is an everyday "Joe"...she is me actually but I've given her powers of intuition which is not quite able to hear, yet.
LOL!

Abby said...

My MC is a heroine, but she thinks she's just a regular Joe.

Tabitha Bird said...

Great post. Heros come in many shapes and sizes. I'll go see what shape mine is in.

Jessie Oliveros said...

An everyday girl, but I definitely don't lay it out in the first five chapters. Good to know for my rewrite.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I respect Donald Maass. Had the opportunity to attend his four day workshop on tension. Incredible. Changed my entire novel. Or at least the half I've written. Will go back and do the same with the first one.

Erica said...

Well. She's an every day "Joe"sephine... She is driven, competitive, she has a soft spot for her grandparents. I'm still fleshing her out.

I can't wait to read Maass's book!

Carolyn V. said...

My hero is a normal teenage girl. But she cracks me up and has a couple of flaws. I hope. =)

Glynis said...

My Kitty is a little miss innocent...until ;0