Transform your main character into a real hero

Are you considering writing heroic fiction? If it’s going to be your first venture into this sub genre there are a few issues you need to address. There is a lot of fiction about heroes and more being written even as this article is being written. A lot of these heroes fade into obscurity because they aren’t carefully crafted.

Here are a few tips on creating a hero readers will root for:

Give your hero some drive

It’s one of the basic elements in story telling but if you really want to create an original hero then you can’t use the same strategy as past writers. Granted most of the angles have been taken but if you try hard enough you can put your own spin on this old genre. Got a story about revenge? Redemption? Your hero’s reason can be pretty original if you put your imagination to task. Revenge is usually over someone that was lost and redemption is always about setting things right. The trick is making this reason have a high impact on the reader. It needs to tug at their heart strings. Your hero’s drive is also the reason why readers will root for him.

Must there always be obstacles?

Yes. Giving your hero a straightforward story to the final climax will make it a stereotypical, forgettable book to read. Anyone that reads will recommend that others don’t read it. Making your hero experience setbacks helps to build his resolve. Showing his efforts to overcome his challenges will earn him admiration in the eyes of your readers. But this also needs a lot of thought. You could easily fall into the trap of making obstacles that are basic. It’s best to come up with something in depth, something that really hurts your main character. First you’ve got to build your main character up so that readers will root for him, then you need to strike him down for them to beg for him to get up.

What kind of hero is he?

This too can be a tricky goal to tackle. Pretty often you have a hero who is idealistic. That doesn’t go down well anymore. Nowadays though it’s getting pretty common to have a hero with questionable ideals. How about having an idealistic hero who finds it difficult to uphold his ideals? Maybe he’s the type of person other characters dislike because he always makes the unpopular decisions. Give readers a hero who doesn’t have everything going for him.

What makes him special?

If you’re going to write heroic fiction or fantasy you need to be able to create a character that will become legendary. He’s got to be the kind of hero that will inspire others. Maybe he’s the stubborn kind which can translate into someone that’s determined to achieve his goals no matter the cost to himself. On the comical side he could have some ridiculous fear. Think of Indiana Jones’s aversion to snakes.

It’s not necessarily about his skills although these too need attention since lately it’s pretty hard to attract big audiences with swordsmanship, gunplay and  hand to hand combat. Don’t get me wrong, this stuff still sells but make sure you do plenty of research before you attempt to write any fight scenes. Your hero has to be impressive.

There is more but that’s up to you

Once you look at these issues you may realize what other ideas you can add to the uniqueness of your character. It’s your story after all. If you’re serious about creating a quality hero you’ll create an environment around him that helps him to become a real legend.

Image Credit: Obra19 via Wikimedia Commons

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When to Branch Away From Source Material

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Since the first few years of the 21st century, we’ve seen a major influx of movies adapted from comic book franchises. While some of these films were commercial successes, fans of the original source material gave way to extreme outrage at how unrecognizable their beloved heroes had become on the big screen.

Let’s take a look at these adaptations.

Changing the source material to suit the big screen does make sense. Some features of the comics could never make it onto the big screen otherwise newer potential audiences wouldn’t find the adaptations appealing. They might end up laughing it off, saying it’s too childish or ridiculous. An example would be the upcoming movie Amazing Spider-Man 2. Just Google it, and you’ll come across Jamie Foxx looking really blue. He’s playing the villain Electro who has direct control over electricity. His original costume is so outlandish that audiences probably would have thought he was a clown. So for the sake of common sense that look was abandoned. These are the kinds of adaptations that most people will agree make sense.

But then there are the adaptations which are loosely based on the source material. This is the type of film which antagonizes most fans. You can change the look of the character. Maybe even change the event which molds their personalities. But when the character is portrayed in a manner that is totally unlike the source material, it counts as a considerable loss of the original fanbase. The tragedy for fans is that in some cases these adaptations were box office smashes. The best example is probably the X-Men franchise. Good movies – but a lot of fans of the comics totally disagree. Too many of their characters were not fully portrayed and others bore little resemblance to their comic book versions. They can give you an extremely long list on what they found wrong with this movie.

The kind of adaptations that smash the box office and appease fans

As a fan of some franchise, you have to be fair towards filmmakers. Your favourite comic could never make an exact transition to the big screen. The whole point of movies is to produce a film that sells well. And for some filmmakers that means not only striving to appease the original fanbase but to try and attract a new fanbase for the films.

A truly high quality movie has good acting, a cleverly constructed storyline, the right setting, and all the other elements which are necessary in making a good movie. A high quality adaptation has all these qualities, but it has a few things extra. These are the key issues:

Strong resemblance to the original characters

You can change the look of the character, don’t misunderstand. It’s inevitable at times that the look will change. Sometimes the look won’t change but that’s based on how deeply rooted it is in the character’s history. It also depends on how popular it is.

The resemblance that is especially important is the portrayal of the characters. While they should never have the same dialogue to the original characters, they should at least act in a way that is resembles the portrayal of the original character. One of the best examples is The Dark Knight. While this movie branched away from the world which exists in the original Batman comics, its realistic approach is intelligently constructed. The feature that cements it as a good adaptation is the portrayal of Batman and the Joker. Christian Bale’s performance truly captured the darkness of Batman’s character while Heath Ledger’s approach was a true reflection of the almost hilarious madness of the Joker.

Other issues inevitably come up but whether they’re really important again depends on how deeply they are entrenched in the franchise. Issues like this can refer to the abilities of characters, their nationalities, etc. But these decisions also fall into the hands of the filmmakers. Fans will just have to have faith that these movie makers will remain respectful of the original source material.

Ultimately you should just go to the movies to watch a good movie

As much as it may hurt fans, it might be better to let go of the issue of whether the adaptation is faithful to the original source material. The only issue that should concern fans is whether it’s a truly reasonable adaptation and whether it makes up a high quality movie.

Image credit: Eva Rinaldi