Friday, September 14, 2012

12 Tips on Creating an Engaging Flawed Hero

Stock by cherrybomb-81

12 Tips on Creating an Engaging Flawed Hero

  1. Flawed — But not just any flaw. A flaw that the reader can see prevents her from getting what she needs to be a better person. Instantly you've created a problem the reader hopes the Hero will be able to solve.

  2. Passionate about what they do — It's often why villains are so appealing: they love what they do! Even if he's selfishly motivated to solve a problem, if he's passionate, he's engaging. Like Sherlock and House.

  3. An admirable value — Duty, honor, dedication to family. There's something to admire amidst the thorns.

  4. Compassion towards those weaker — also called "Save the cat" or "Pet the dog."

  5. Important to someone or something else — a flower in an abandoned lot, a broken winged bird, a dying language, a small child.

  6. "Grit" — no matter the obstacle, she's determined.

  7. "Wit" — Humor that, though barbed, is insightful not mean spirited.

  8. "It"* — sex appeal, charm.

  9. Undeserved misfortune** — Not just misfortune but undeserved. The Hero isn't as bad as life is treating him.

  10. Vulnerable but determined not to let others see weakness — Others may mistake this as pretense, until the Hero's handicap or misfortune is revealed.

  11. Circumstances that make unpleasant behavior understandable — Release from prison, death of a loved one.

  12. Quirk — What is it about quirks that humanizes people? It also makes the character more memorable.

© Joyce Fetteroll 2012

* "Grit, wit and it." James Scott Bell, The Art of War for Writers.
** "Undeserved misfortune." Jeffrey Alan Schechter, My Story Can Beat Up Your Story!


Night Puma said...

I have serious problems with this list; specifically 9 and 11. I've had to close the cover on an infinite number of horrible books where a character went through horrible tragedies that s/he didn't deserve at all and that's why she acts in inexcusable ways.

Joyce Fetteroll said...

Anything can be done badly. An author using a technique clumsily shouldn't deter you from doing it better! :-)

The "problem" with great writing is that how the author is doing what she's doing so well is practically invisible. But when writing is bad, it jumps right out at you :-)