Thank you Judith for hosting me on your blog today!
Today I’m going to talk a little bit about what makes your heroes believable. This post is more for the newbie’s than the old folk but either way pull up a chair and gather around. You might learn something.
Especially as a fiction writer it is easy to get caught up in the majesty of your hero being powerful, unstoppable, and even invincible with nothing that could stand in their way. But this is uninteresting. Those kind of flawless folk are long gone with the golden age of comic books. Heroes today are not flawless examples of what society should set out to be. Instead they are what people should be – “imperfect perfect “creatures getting by the best way they can.
The human condition is far from “perfect”. Thus our characters have to represent this and be relatable so the reader can connect to them. They are going to have faults, period. Not only does this make them more interesting but open up new potential plot points or directions to take them as you write your story. And who ever complains about too much inspiration?
Let me go over a few points I notice from time to time when reviewing other peoples work:
Going through the Journey: From the get go your character needs to show at least some of what they are capable of. And then allow them to grow, sometimes in ways even you don’t expect. You want them to have peaks and valleys their characters journey. They are not untouched by the world around him. We all react to outside stimuli that test our desires, our fears, our endurance. This is the same for your character as well. Even if they are not central to the main plot, a side step here and there to round out your hero is not always a bad thing.
The 24/7 upstanding citizen: Very few of us are so perfect that we aren’t rebellious in some way. In doing that we allow ourselves the chance to change and evolve and to become our own person. And sometimes that rebellion is doing an unfavorable thing. Unless there’s a point to being that cookie cutter angel, things we do wrong help define us.
Cause and Effect: I punch through a window - my hand will break. I cheat on my girlfriend, that girlfriend may or may not plot to have me fired from my job. Your hero should not be exempt from the responsibility of the consequences their actions bring. They will not just solder on through tough times. Sometimes they will stumble or just fall. It should change them in some way, and either they fly or fall. And from there they can rise again – if you want them too. This brings me to my next point…
Roadblocks/Obstacles/Conflict: Those things the character has to overcome to get to their end goal. We have them in everyday life and have to surmount those to get to what we want. This can be a physical object, a destination, or battling depression to make it to the credits. These are just a few of infinite examples of what your character can/should face. Every story should have them and every story needs them to put the character through its paces. If they are breezing through the book without conflict and resistance – you have a problem.
These are just a few ideas I’ve come up with through my years of screenplay coverage and critiquing other writers work. But I can’t take all the credit for this experience. So for more in depth look at these kinds of things I recommend two books by Sol Stein – Stein on Writing and How to Grow a Novel. They will help you take a serious look at your project and see if there are issues that need to be addressed.
Final point before I leave. Have fun making your character be as dynamic, three dimensional, miserable, and happy as possible. It’s part of life and as they say it’s more about the journey. The same goes for your story. Thank you once again Judith for letting me prattle on your blog today and being a part of my first blog tour!
A young alchemist, Cassarah Telmar, thought training at the magic academy was what life was about, until she discovered it's students powers were being stolen by the Coalition, an ambiguous corporation turned warmongering militia. Cass escapes their program and vows to bring them down.
The key lies on the young James Kesumare's mind, who is responsible for destroying the gate technology that's stranded the Coalition and forced them to survive in a backward parallel world. Cass wants nothing more than to destroy them and free her clan, but she's too blind to see that the end begins for both the Coalition, and herself. She will have to chose between living under their thumb, or dying with freedom.
Excerpt of The End Begins: The Nine:
The early morning light of Cass’s fourth day in Jurgin almost blinded her. It was the second day having taken on an overnight shift and the hours were worn on her face. Children with large backpacks passed her, smiling and waving. Some of her other neighbors acknowledged her with a wave, though they seemed to still avoid her despite having blended into their population quite well.
From the street, Cass entered a small diner, very homely and inviting even with a small layer of noticeable dust. Once inside she noticed her other co-workers sat in a booth not far from the front door. She quickly turned away and sat in her own booth. The waitress was quick to come by to take her order. The male co-workers from the other side of the room tried to grab her attention, but she paid little attention and was thankful when her food arrived.
This diner she’d visited since coming to Jurgin specialized in hearty meals of bacon, eggs, and sausage, though she defied the usual for hash browns and eggs. The food was quick to come and she enjoyed the taste and though she only nibbled at the meat, she gorged herself on eggs, potatoes, and toast. Already the feeling crept in that she was losing herself in the local community’s filth at times.
As she tore into a strip of bacon, her glance shifted to the floor, a discarded newspaper sat under her feet. She brought it up to the table when a long article on the side of the newspaper’s face with an image of Skylar and some other Tro-Dey’s greeting the locals of that area the picture was taken, that had a name she had a hard time saying.
Cass scanned the plain-faced type font of the article, which at first caught her off guard to how similar it was to her own. She learned it was an interview given by Skylar, their acting representative, during the Nine’s first visit to Washington. They were interested in expanding their influence to the country in light of the issues the ravaged country had.
The young woman sank in her chair in anguish as one of her co-workers, a six-foot-something rotund man with large, black, and round glasses came and sat at her booth. She didn’t respond to his presence.
“What you readin’?” he asked.
“Nothing in particular,” she lied. He leaned on the table toward her.
“Look, Jass. Let’s face it. No one around here has taken to you too well. I know you’re not from around here and so do most of us. All I’m saying is, you hang with the right people, and things will go easier for you. Just trying to make your life a little easier. I’m sure you can appreciate that, can’t you?”
Dwelling in her personal hell, her vision locked on the paper until the fat man swiped the newspaper from her.
“Are you listening, Jass?” he asked.
Cass shot up from the table. “My name is Cass! C-A-double-S!” Her diamond blue eyes narrowed at him.
“I’ve had enough of your insistent meddling in my affairs. I am not going to,” she searched her mind a second for the right word, “fuck? You? Okay? Get found? Lost? Go away! Leave me be,” she threw down some flamboyant currency on the table and left for the door.
The man, with the paper in hand, stood from the booth. Before she made it to the door, two men, the fat man’s lapdogs from his booth, had the door blocked.
“Let me pass.”
“Jass,” the fat man gingerly called to her, “It would be in your best interests if you…”
The moment the fat man put a hand on her shoulder, she kicked into the side of his knee. He yelped an octave higher while his mass crashed to the ground with a loud thud. As the young alchemist’s attention returned to the two men at the door, her face connected with the fist of one of the lapdogs. Disoriented, the other shoved her into the diner’s counter.
As they advanced on her, she groped the counter for a weapon.
Steak knife. Dirty but sharp, she thought, but the lap dog’s greedy hands pinned her against the counter with their strength.
The fat man wobbled to his feet with a face red with anger. She felt his next course of action was going to be a violent one.
There were no options now; she had got in over her head.
Cass willed energy into her hands until they were a hint of red, then grabbed the closest man that held an arm and burned them. He released her, cursing while the skin on his forearm blistered instantly.
When the other tried to restrain her, she landed a quick jab that left knuckle marks in their skin, then released the energy housed in her hand and shot a small fireball into his face. The second lackey was down for the count, their skin was red, blistered and cracked.
But the fat man would not be detoured, and lumbered after her. She brushed her hands as they turned blue against her clothes. Energy crackled along the veins of her hands as she drew it from her torso and double-fisted him in the chest.
The sudden impact knocked the glasses off the large man’s face as he stumbled across the room and crashed into a table while he went into cardiac arrest. The other lackey, with forearms burnt, backed away.
Cass stood, bleeding with her power, triumphant.
Then came the stares and shocked faces of the witnesses around her.
Born and Raised in the state of Indiana, Jeffrey Zweig II is a self published author of Epic Science Fiction/Fantasy. His degree from Indiana State University, with a background in DIY film production, and internships with various production companies laid the foundation for his creative career and for living life on his terms. He resides in Indianapolis, Indiana living the dream, as they say.
When not writing he volunteers his time remotely with the Dallas based non-profit Reading and Radio Resource, a company specializing in aiding those with disabilities to enjoy literature.
For more information on this author:
His Blog: Stories of the Sleepless Mind
His Wiki: Zweig Independent Publications