Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Introducing The Hero

Since we're simpleminded creatures, the majority of our stories have one person that's the focal point.  Sure, we build in lots of other characters, and some have a big impact on the story, but it usually comes back to one person who will save the day.  That's how my books work, even the ones I didn't intend - one character drives the story, and we see the journey through his or her eyes.

But where do we introduce this person?  For me, the answer has always been at the very beginning.  Call it a flaw of mine, but we see what's happening through the hero's eyes, so I need to get him in front of you fast.  In fact, the hero usually shows up on the first page.

That's not always the way to go, however.  Sometimes there's a need to build the situation prior to bringing in the guy or gal who will save the day.  I wish I had the skill of some writers and could do this, and I might try with a future novel, but it's hard because the hero is how we find out what's going to happen.

I believe that even if you hold off on introducing the hero, you can't wait too long.  Readers will get bored or will simply assign the role of the hero to somebody else.  I think we have an innate thirst to root for somebody, so we latch onto the first strong player we find.  This can create loads of conflict when the author introduces another character later and tries telling us that that person is now who we should follow.  I've run into readers who are so resistant to such a thing that they bail on the book entirely.

With rare exception, I don't think a hero should come in riding a mountain of glory from the start.  I like flawed heroes, because I think they're more relatable.  I usually introduce the hero in a moment of crisis so we can immediately get emotionally invested and see where this person goes.  Even in Akeldama, which starts with the hero finishing off a vampire, the main character isn't a full-fledged Hunter yet and is still under the tutelage of his mentor.  Such things help the character to grow, in my opinion.

Where do you start your hero?  How do you establish that he or she even is a hero?

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