Thursday, January 31, 2013

Knights in Shining Armor

Happy Thursday, good people of the blogosphere! Today we're gonna talk about white knights on bleached chargers and what causes the little fiends to fall off. So, grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going!

Everyone loves a good hero. But what is the main quality of the heroes you remember the most? I bet it's that they have a flaw. Not a minor flaw, but a fatal one.

Shakespeare did this well. His tragic heroes all had a fatal flaw. One that led to their doom. Now, I'm not saying everyone in your novel must die, just that your hero (and heroine) must have flaws of some kind. This goes back to an earlier post I did on making your characters feel real to your reader. Aristotle wrote about tragedies in his book Poetics.

If you're a writer and you've never googled this, it's time you did. He wasn't a stupid man.

Basically, his idea says that you can't have a tragic hero unless that hero has a fatal flaw. Otherwise, nothing makes sense. But let's get off that and into non-tragedy.

If your hero is to be believable, he needs to commit some act that makes his flaw leap to the forefront. No one is infallible unless they're a saint. Let's face it, saints don't make for good fiction. You want your reader to want the girl to end up with the guy of your choosing but you can't make it easy for her. She needs to struggle with the decision a little. Every real relationship has things that must be overcome in order for it to work. If they fight like cats and dogs, use it to your advantage. If both your main characters have flaws, they can seem incompatible and you can use that to heighten tension.

Of course, a third character acting against the first two can also give your characters much needed tension. But it doesn't have to be a love-triangle scenario. That character can be a girl who doesn't want to lose her BFF or a guy who doesn't want to lose his football game buddy. It can even be a god or a ghost!

But your hero must also have some deep redeeming quality that allows him to rise above everyone else. It's a fine line to walk.

When you're writing a character bio, keep these tension points in mind. Heck, after reading Aristotle's writings, you may decide you want to pen a tragedy! For the love of all that's good, google Poetics and have a read.

Who was your favorite hero? Why?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


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