How to Create a Hero.
First of all, apologies for having been quiet for so long. I hadn't realised my last entry was dated last Christmas. How time flies when you're working hard writing a new thriller novel while re-editing a current manuscript. Maybe I should grow an extra head and two more hands; although then there's a good chance I'd just use them to browse that great depository of lost time called the web, while playing a computer game, or even reading a book, or snacking, or napping, or...
Anyway, back to the blog.
Hmm, yes, quite how does one go about creating a hero? I've been giving this some thought over the last few months and have come to the conclusion that it's more difficult than it looks. Here are some of my observations:
Every hero should have a name that is one part bland and one part silly. Examples of this are Indiana Jones, Modesty Blaze and Inspector Endeavour Morse. (Endeavour? No wonder he didn't tell anyone. What sort of nickname cane you give to someone named Endeavour? Endy? Not very good for a detective. And of course every time he asked Lewis to get him a pint of beer, the answer would come back "Of course, but you could always 'Endeavour' to get your own, ha ha!") If that's not going to do the job then you can always give him/her a mysterious, and equally daft, middle name, like James Tiberius Kirk. There's always got to be a silly name in there somewhere. Of course the one big exemption to this is James Bond, whose name was chosen specifically because it was bland; but then a hero's name should actually stop being a name at all after a time and should become, eventually, a byword.
Tall is always the order of the day, although not a giant. Tubby does not become a hero, nor too thin, but trim and muscular. Unusually heroes should not be too pretty and can sometimes even be a little ugly, repulsive even, although in a way that makes females go weak at the knees at their gruff masculinity. They do not shave often (don't have the time) and hair is usually artfully dishevelled but never messy. A few cuts and bruises and the odd scar only adds to the allure. Heroines, on the other hand, should always be drop-dead gorgeous and carry a conveniently compact vanity case with them wherever they go, which includes a full working hairdryer, styling tongs and a dehydrated Hollywood make-up artist -- just add water. Heroines may only have attractively placed cuts and bruises, like 18th Century mouches.
Yes, a strange thing to consider, but very important. Heroes do not sweat like normal human beings, their sweat smells of the stuff that attracts the opposite sex, even after they've spent months trekking through the Amazon, sleeping in Mongolian yurts, wrestling with alligators and making friends with the local gorilla king. Nobody says to a hero: "You stink, go and take a bath," instead it's, "Get into my bed." Heroines always smell of rose water (or Channel No.5 if they're rich), even after they have been trekking through the Amazon, sleeping in Mongolian yurts....
Hero or Anti-Hero?
The main difference between a hero and an anti-hero is that the hero will do anything required of him without making a big fuss about it. Actually he's usually quite keen to get stuck in. On the other hand the anti-hero will rolls his eyes, sigh heavily and say "Do I really have to save her/him/them" before going ahead and doing it anyway. Also the anti-hero may initially seem more concerned about fame and fortune, riches and power, but bumping into a big-eyed waif in distress usually causes him to adjust his position. Usually the anti-hero has a great deal of trouble getting up in the morning while the hero is quite perky.
Family and friends.
Heroes should not have families. They rarely have a boyfriend/girlfriend who lasts longer than a single book/film (goodness knows what happens to them between books) and if there's the sound of wedding bells in the air, the poor sap who agreed to marry them will usually be dead by the end of the book. It is very unusual for a hero to have a friend as more often than not they wind up dead; the only exception to this is the friend who also acts as a chronicler. They are usually allowed to survive, but only on the proviso that there is no romance. If there's even the slightest hint of romance they immediately become "plot-bait", subject of being kidnapped, tortured, threatened and generally treated like garbage by the villain. The hero's long-suffering mater and pater (What good parents would want their son or daughter dallying with the gorilla king?) should always be left at home, lest the hero be forced to hobble at their pace and have to suffer their constant jibes that he/she should have become an accountant like Cousin Ralph.
Accoutrements and Quirks.
What things a hero carries around with him/her, their quirks and habits are what defines them, to an extent. James Bond carries a Beretta (at least initially) and enjoys his vodka martini "shaken not stirred", while Indiana Jones has his whip and fedora. Judge Dredd has his Lawmaster (and very big boots) and Lara Croft has a... er... back pack. Some may carry only a certain make of gun, or a knife, or a whip, or indeed have no weapon at all and use their fists, or better still, their minds (assuming they're intelligent, otherwise it'd be something of a waste of time). Quirks also add spice to the character: a fear of snakes, spiders, water, heights, fire, sausages... the list goes on.
Some heroes have super powers. It's sad but it's true. This one will require a blog of its own, I think.
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So there you have it, your (almost) finished hero. But if you ask me heroes are more defined by their adventures and how they react to dangerous situations and tough choices than by what their name is, what they look like, what they wear, how they smell, what they're scared of and what they use. Heroes are about what is in their souls.
Thank you for reading this blog. Make sure you check out my new short story on Wattpad. It's free to read and its about heroes... well, sort of. You can read it here.