Everybody has a different idea of what makes a good, or satisfying hero or heroine. Let’s talk about some archetypes, the ones listed below are just a few standard ones. There are many more and a zillion variations of each one, which is what makes characters so much fun.
1. Standard Issue Hero: Strong, likable, a man’s man. If he’s modern day, he might like to have a beer on the weekends and hang out with the guys. During the story he may or may not grow much more as a hero. Since he’s already pretty heroic, there’s not far for him to go. People like him because he’s dependable, brave and all around decent guy. There could be variations on this…he could be romantic, could not be. Could have some minor flaws or something from his past that haunts him from time to time. Think Superman or Wesley from “The Princess Bride.”
2. The Unlikely Hero: This is a hero who becomes a hero during the course of the story. At the start, he was just going about his business and then was thrust into a situation where he needed to become the hero. Sometimes this hero embraces his new role, right off, but most likely he is afraid at first and might take some prodding to become who he is supposed to be. Think Harry Potter or Willow from the movie “Willow.”
1. The Bella: Yes, I made a Twilight reference. *shudder* This kind of heroine is similar to the “unlikely hero” above. They don’t know they are the hero until they are pushed into a certain situation. Not true with all heroines, but in the case of “The Bella” she may continue to doubt her heroine status for several books, which can tire the reader, or it can make the reader like her even better since they can identify with her. This kind of heroine is made specifically SO readers will hopefully relate to her. After all, what woman hasn’t felt insecure about themselves and had eyes for somebody they thought was out of their league? This heroine will likely grow into their full potential, but it might take longer with a few more bumps in the road. Think, well, Bella from “Twilight” or Aislinn from “Wicked Lovely.”
2. The Butt-Kicker: Here’s a heroine who is a fully realized heroine from the time she steps onto the scene. She’s different from your “standard issue hero” above because often times, she is not likable, or at least not at first. There are variables that could range from just mega-snarky to rip your head off and dance in your blood. She may never become “likable” but that’s ok, we’re not there to like her, we’re there to bask in the awesomeness of her butt-kicking power. She may have a love interest, but ultimately, she’s there to get the job done. She could be bent on revenge, she could have been damaged in her youth, but whatever the case, the sweet tender side of her is gone and she has become one mean mama. Think The Bride from “Kill Bill” or Princess Leia from “Star Wars.”
What are your favorite types of heroes and heroines? What qualities do you like them to have and why?