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I like to distill basic concepts to their base forms in order to understand them. A quest in search of the lowest common denominator. Nothing is more basic, more essential to literature (and its associated artistic forms) than the Hero.

So what is a Hero?

The Main Character in a narrative?

The guy with the cape, gun or title?


The Hero is that someone who will do what needs to be done.

Actor + Need + Action= Hero.

Whether charging into a burning building to rescue a child or standing up to a bully each situation requires someone to do something in response. Success is not guaranteed but the price of failure is well understood. A good story builds on the tension between these three elements.

Is the actor capable of action?

Does he recognize the need for action?

Will his actions be enough?

What about the consequences of said actions?

Go back to every book or movie you have ever read and think about them using this framework. Whether the story is about mythic heroes saving the known world/galaxy/universe or a personal struggle to overcome deep seated fears each successful narrative presents a compelling actor facing a real need doing something about it.

That, in a nutshell, is what a Hero is all about.

One Comment

    • wereviking
    • Posted August 13, 2009 at 4:36 am
    • Permalink

    Nice post!

    Zephyr — a superhero webcomic in prose

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