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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

These are the Shoes of Heroes (RE-POST)

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?

14 comments:

Tess said...

It's so true .. if we don't feel passionate about our characters, how can the reader? Sometimes I struggle w/ a character that I just can't connect to ... usually that means it is a character who needs to be cut.

WhisperingWriter said...

Oh yeah, my main character definately has flaws.

Tamika: said...

I loved this chapter, Mr. Maas deals with the essentials right from the start. The same as we should with our characters- make the bold from the beginning.

Carolyn V. said...

My main character is a girl who runs over some hot guy in school. Her weakness, she is clumsy and too curious for her own good. It just keeps getting her into so much trouble.

Jenn Johansson said...

My MC is a guy with serious problems. He's definitely flawed, but from page 1 I think you have to admire the fact that he's still trying even after everything he's been through. Great post!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

He's an average, naughty little boy - but totally charming! :-)

Swapna Raghu Sanand said...

My main character has flaws that make the reader feel connected. Now, I feel that I am on the right track.

Nancy said...

This is a great post. It's good to know that we should put some weaknesses in our heroes early as well as strengths of our everyday people. I probably wouldn't have done that. Now I know.

Nisa said...

My MC is actually the villain. He has lots of faults and strengths. Hehe! This was a great post!

Imola said...

if you care for your hero (even if he is, in fact, an anti-hero), he will reward you by becoming memorable. (looking forward to hearing how he's progressing).

Heather Sunseri said...

ooooh. Good post, Susan. I still need to get this book! You've taught me so much from it. I just rewrote my first chapter and need to think if I succeeded at this particular issue.

Abby Annis said...

I love this book! I'm so glad you're reposting these. Great reminders as I work on my rewrites. :)

Girl in My Own World said...

I would say that most of my main characters are heros in their own right. They may not all start out that way, but they will end up that way.

Dara said...

My MC is an everyday girl. She may be more of a heroine as the book goes on when she's confronted with circumstances that most people would break under.