Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Writing Heroes



     I have been on Goodreads quite a lot lately, and something I like to do is read reviews of well known books. Some that I've read and others that I want to. I always go to the negative reviews because I am fascinated to find out what people didn't like about books that I think are amazing(this has a lot to do with target audiences which I will talk about in an upcoming post). 
     I was reading a review of J.R.R Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring, something the reviewer said regarding heroes really stuck with me. He was basically saying that writer's notions of a hero, particularly in the fantasy genre, have changed dramatically since The Lord of the Rings was written. Frodo is considered the hero, but what is striking is that the things that classify him as a hero are his internal qualities, i.e. his bravery, courage, and selflessness. This is a stark contrast from what many writers use to define their heroes now, i.e. powerful abilities, strength and intelligence. Frodo was an average hobbit and it wasn't his abilities that made him heroic but rather what he was able to do with the courage inside him and his willingness to stand up for something, even if it was bigger than him (no pun intended). However the similarities between Frodo and many other hero stories is that he is the one who is chosen to save the day. 
     As with Harry Potter, Harry is clearly the hero, but what I like about Harry is that he has flaws. Yes he is powerful, but he couldn't have done anything without the help of his friends and of course Dumbledore. 
    This made me think of what sort of character I want to build in my own novels. I'm not sure if I would classify Nalia as the hero. She has countless flaws (her dangerous inquisitive nature, her disregard for rules, her impulsiveness and inability to control her emotions). But then I remind myself that she is a teenager and of course she has these flaws.  I had many of these when I was an adolescent. But I don't write Nalia as the one who is required to save it all. She will need those around her just as they will need her. It is definitely her story, but it is about how she will overcome the challenges in her life and how she will use her gifts in the process. And this to me is the theme that I hope to carry. We all have shooting arrows in our lives but we also have a natural ability inside us (whatever it may be) that helps us to some how overcome them. And of course we would be silly to think we can do it all on our own and without the help of those who love us.

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