Everybody needs a hero, that person to whom we can look for protection, guidance and inspiration. They come in all shapes and sizes. Thin, fat, lean, muscular, male or female, our heroes can be found everywhere. The thing about our society is that we tend not to reward the common day heroics that we see around us. Help an elderly person carry their groceries to the car, and there is no fanfare to acknowledge your good deed. Help get a cat out of a tree, and you’ll just end up scratched. Save someone from the jaws of death by yanking them out of the way of oncoming traffic, and they’ll probably just sue you for yanking them too hard.
True heroes exist, though. The real ones do it without wanting fanfare or reward. They do it because helping each other is just the right thing to do. I have many heroes in my life. My mother and father are perhaps the greatest of heroes to me. Rita, the lady who helped to rear me, is another (yes, I said rear. Technically, you raise cattle, you rear children). My older brother has taught me how to be strong in the face of tremendous adversity. My younger brother is a firefighter, so his bravery and heroism are called to task every time he puts on the badge. My nephew, Kristian, has endured more than most people twice his age. Kristian is definitely a HERO to me! My wife puts up with all of my crap, definitely a heroic act. Not to mention, she is a teacher…’nuff said.
Special disclaimer: TEACHERS are the greatest heroes we have. They certainly do not get the credit they deserve. Anyone who can put up with the bratty children of the world and keep coming back for more deserves instant admission into the Justice League. Move over Superman and Wonder Woman … Knowledge Guy and Lady Learner are the new sheriffs in town.
I feel that the best heroes, the ones with whom we identify the most, are the ones with flaws. When we see that our idols also suffer from the same deficiencies we do, it humanizes them. When that happens, we feel a kinship that aligns us to them.
Corwyn, from Necromancers’ Pride – Quest for Elderstone, is one such character. As we began to write him, D.W. and I made him a very powerful warrior. It was actually my envisioning of who I wanted to be, were I to live in that world. D.W. kept telling me that there is no emotional investment if Corwyn could not grow throughout the book, gaining in skill and insight as he went along. At first, I responded by letting D.W. know how inferior his intellect was to mine, and that he did not grasp the subtle nuances that were apparent in Corwyn.
Well, after much deliberation, I came to the conclusion that – gasp! – D.W. was right all along. His intellect is still far below mine of course, but he actually made a salient point. We needed to create a character with whom the readers could identify. That could only be done by taking you on a journey of discovery with the character. So, D.W. and I rewrote and rewrote Corwyn into the person who now exists in the world of Tarune.
I have to admit, D.W. had the insight to see that heroes who evolve are far more intriguing characters than the nearly invincible being I had wanted at the beginning. I truly feel the story is richer and more accessible now for having given Corwyn such flaws. What flaws, you ask? Well, you’ll just have to read the novel to find out … being released in January 2014! (Another shameless plug!)
Who are the heroes in your life? What do you look for in a storybook hero?
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