Holding Out for a Hero - How to Write a Believable Hero


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The music builds, the hero's fate seems set in stone, and the villain is on the verge of winning. Then the hero breaks free, battles the villain's henchmen and stops the evil plot, thus saving the world.

Sound familiar?? A good action and adventure tale is a non-stop thrill ride, designed to transport the reader into a world they may never be able to experience themselves.

But what about those things that can pull the reader out of the story? No, not those pesky grammar/punctuation issues. I'm talking about problem with the story itself.

Here are a few of the things that pull me out of a story and make me wonder what happened. And when?

The hero's development of ‘Superhero’ abilities without explanation.
You know what I'm talking about; the hero suddenly has super-hearing or strength. But how this happened is a mystery to the reader. Usually, the explanation is so quick, the reader has to stop reading and go back through the previous pages to see when, or if, it ever happened. You need to let the reader know how this ability developed, not in grave details, but at least enough that the reader isn't left pondering the mysteries of physics.

Knowing how to fight like a Kung-Fu master without any training.
Even better is when the hero can beat a martial arts trained villain using basic fighting skills, and without getting a scratch on him. If your hero is going to be able to fight like a master, then you need to show that he's had this ability before the final battle scene.

Bad Guys can't shoot, but the Good Guys always can.
One of the worse action scenes I can remember seeing is one where the heroes are sliding head-first down a rope, shooting all of the villains with handguns while the villains are trying to shoot them with machine guns! They hit every shot and the villains miss every shot. Exciting? You bet ya! Possible? Not a chance! Even an action story has to have some basis in reality. The reader can only suspend belief so long before they'll stop reading.

The hero never, EVER gets hurt.
This one is just plain silly. If you are going to be someone who gets into scraps for a living, then you are going to get hurt. Even if it's just a paper cut from that pesky Action Hero Contract! One of the things I love about the Die Hard movies is just how much damage he can take, enough that it's realistic without going so over the top that you wonder why he isn't 6 feet under yet!

These are the major things that will yank me right out of a story. While I realize that sometimes these things are necessary, keeping them within the realm of reality. . . if even barely inside. . . can make your story exciting and realistic. Not an easy feat, but well worth it for your reader.

Dawn Arkin is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Writers . Her portfolio can be found at http://www.Writing.Com/authors/darkin so stop by and read for a while.


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