Need a Hero?

So I promised to blog more often, and here’s my latest attempt to do so (at least a month over due).

The reason I’m writing now is because I’ve been writing a lot. Just not on the internet.

For more years than I can count (okay, let’s just say six years because it’s a good number), I’ve been writing a very long, hopefully epic novel. I’ve already surpassed my own expectations in lasting this long, but the real surprise is that I’m on about the third draft of the first half of the novel. That’s right. I’ve revised before I even finished one draft.

Here’s my issue. I’m trying to do justice to characters who are larger than life. Without going into too many specifics, as I hope never to make this blog my writer’s share-time where you all read my work and potentially plagiarize my genius, the novel focuses on the lives of two characters who each find themselves thrust into the larger world.

Of course, thematically we could say I’m dealing with coming of age, finding one’s destiny, saving the world from evil and all the things one desires from an epic. But that would be selling my incomplete effort short before I’ve even gotten to my climax! I’d rather just say that I want to deal with the idea of choices. Our choices influence the world around us, though not everyone gets to be president or queen or ruler of the known universe.

In light of my fascination with cause and effect, I thought I’d take the time to share with you some characters (dare I call them heroes?) whose battle with choices have inspired me in recent years.

1. Frodo Baggins: Any LOTR fan would tell you their opinion on this lovable hobbit. Frodo’s decision to take the One Ring to Mordor gives me chills no matter how many times I read the books. (Yes, I’ve read them more than once!) Even though he’s never so much as gone farther from home than the next region of the Shire, his sense of the greater danger of the world around him leads him to a crossroad at which he decides to risk everything to save what he loves most. This decision drives the plot of the novels. Sure, Aragorn makes a lot of heroic calls in battle, but Frodo, the little introverted, proper hobbit, is the one who left all that behind to fulfill a task he didn’t really understand when he said yes to it.

2. Katniss Everdeen: If you haven’t read Suzanne Collins’s series, once again, you’ve missed out. Katniss is one of the most disturbed and relatable heroes of YA lit because she is more than just a reluctant hero. She literally becomes the face of a broken people, just for being her usual take-no-nonsense self. The choice that gets me, though, is unfortunately a spoiler. So please, please read Mockingjay. In my eyes, Katniss isn’t a hero until she risks everything and knows it.

3. Ender Wiggin: So I’m a broken record. This young boy is one of the most disturbed and relatable heroes of YA lit. It isn’t his shrewd battle sense or his tactical skills that makes him a hero. He’s a hero because he cares. It is his greatest strength, and it is exactly what all the generals behind him can’t manufacture. He sees his enemy with even greater love than he shows himself; you can’t ask for a more heroic character. 

4. Esther: Yes, the Esther from the Bible. I find her decision to risk her own life and well-being to speak to the king on behalf of every Jew in Persia is remarkable. I desire to have that kind of guts. 

5. Every lead character on LOST: Okay, this one is decidedly less literary. But one thing I admired from the very beginning of this polarizing series is that every character had his/her own flaws. The one thing they had in common was that they’d made choices that led them there. Nobody was the old “fortune’s fool.” By the end of the show, you get to see who learned from those choices and desired to break free from their past mistakes. (Again, I’m not a fan of spoilers.)

These are just some heroes whose choices inspire me. In my writing, my mission is always to push my characters to the brink of their comfort and experience, because those are the moments in which one individual’s choices can change the world.

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