I’ve found that one of the most interesting, rewarding, and yet frustrating tasks of writing is that of creating heroes, ones that are different and make a difference in the story.
What am I talking about? Well, there are times, when creating a hero, that I wonder if it is merely a rubber-stamp copy of one I have in another book. At times, it is different to determine whether or not I’ve succeeded in creating very individual heroes. However, there are several ways I’ve found, hopefully, to get around this.
First of all, I not only give them different descriptions, but also different jobs. A cop, for example, isn’t going to have the same traits as that of a CPA. When I developed my characters for my first mystery, Murder By Mistake, I knew I was going to have a cop hero. After all, my character works at solving a murder because she’s afraid if she tells the truth, he’ll arrest her for the crime. She’s psychic, saw a murder in her apartment, and can give the cops several clues that could lead to his identity. But who would believe she saw a murder and yet wasn’t there? And what would be better than having a hero in direct opposition to the protagonist?
In order to develop my hero, I had to also decide upon my protagonist’s characteristics. First of all, she would have to be of strong character, willing to take chances that a meeker, perhaps mild person wouldn’t. I, for example, wouldn’t do hardly any of the things she does, even if I were her age. Any bravery I have doesn’t include chasing down murderers, defying cops, and the like. However, I felt she needed more than bravery (or is it foolishness). She would have to be appearing to the hero; otherwise, she’d be looking through bars.
That meant I had to design a hero that would tend to be a “by the book” cop, and yet be fascinated enough with the protagonist to be willing to “bend.”
I think I succeeded. However, I then did something totally unexpected and unplanned. I was in the middle of working on a scene when something popped into my head. I needed a way to interpret and make clear some of her psychic visions. So, enter hero number two, a Native American artist, former Special Forces, who also teaches survival and other such things that would have me shaking in my boots. Enter Jack Wolf, who was supposed to “walk on the set” and then “walk off.”
He refused, is still in the series, and occupies much of the protagonist’s time. Certainly he has some of the characteristics the cop has. After all, he was a member of the Special Forces. But, he’s also a psychic, unless the cop who is very strong about not believing in that. And then, he’s also an artist, perhaps a strange combination, but it does make for some interesting scenes.
There’s one element that seems to crop up, not only in both these heroes, but the heroes in my other books. They’re all tall, over six feet, with one exception, and that one is 5’11”. I suppose it’s because I tend to prefer tall men in real life, which can create problems as when dancing with one, as I’m not even five feet tall any more. I used to be, but now I’m slightly over 4’9”.
Why have two heroes, even though they’re different? I really can’t answer that, but do admit I enjoy writing about the juxtaposition of the two, the “sometimes” rivalry, and even the occasional camaraderie. Since this is an ongoing series and not essentially a romance based one, my character doesn’t need to choose between one and the other. Besides, I’ve gotten quite fond of both and don’t want to give up either one.
As I’ve written this, I’ve decided to take a look at other heroes in some of my other (unpublished) books in order to determine if I’ve succeeded in creating “different” characters, or if they’re too much alike.
I’d love to hear about some of your experiences when creating heroes, and how you’ve solved some of the problems that arise.
Joan K. Maze
Writing as J. K. Maze
Murder By Mistake, book 1 in the Mollie Fenwick Mystery Series, available as an ebook from Red Rose Publishing, B&N, Fictionwise and Amazon
Murder By Mistake, book 1 in the Mollie Fenwick Mystery Series, available in paperback from Amazon
Murder for Kicks, book 2 in the Mollie Fenwick Mystery Series, available as an ebook from Red Rose Publishing, Fictionwise and Amazon
Framed in Fear, romantic suspense, available from Red Rose Publishing, Fictionwise and Amazon
Murder by Spook, book 3 in the Mollie Fenwick Mystery Series, in progress