Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Heroic Characters and the Law of the Original by Angela E. Arndt

How do you build a heroic character? How can you make sure that they and their story are memorable? I've noticed the stories that I remember contain imperfect men and women facing larger-than-life situations. Perfect heroes in a perfect world make me yawn.

The human brain remembers the one that is different.
- The Law of the Original

Okay, so it's not a real law, but think about the last three weddings you attended. Which one was most memorable: the two that were perfect or the one where the photographer dropped the camera into the chocolate fondue fountain? Which is your favorite school photo of your child: the ones with the perfect smile or that one with the crooked grin you see just after he's been a wee bit naughty? We remember things that are different, so apply that law to your story.

Today is Veterans Day, when we salute those brave women and men who have risked their lives to protect our country. They are the original heroes of our country so when you build your imaginary ones, think about what makes a veteran different from the average Joe or Jane.
  1. A soldier believes that our country is worth his or her life. You want your character to have strong convictions. Wishy-washy figures are ho-hum. 
  2. Physical strength and stamina are a must to succeed in the armed forces. It also takes psychological and emotional stamina. Your hero and heroine needs to be strong, too -- strong enough to carry your story with their growth through their trials.
  3. An American soldier is brave and has strength of character. It takes someone very strong to leave their family behind to fight for families all over the country. Make your heroes stand for their beliefs to make them strong and memorable.
So as you celebrate Veterans Day, remember our real-life heroes and use the Law of the Original to create your own memorable imaginary heroes.


What's your secret to creating heroic characters? Where have you noticed the Law of the Original? Leave us a note below -- we'd love to hear from you.

4 comments:

  1. Great analogy, Angie, and valuable advice when creating our characters!

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    1. Thank you so much, Sandy! I really appreciate it.

      And I so appreciate all the veterans out there who sacrificed to keep us free. Happy Veterans Day!

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  2. Awesome post, Angie!! I so appreciate our military heroes! And it's so true...perfect is boring. I like my heroes/heroines to possess strength and honor and conviction, but they also need a trait that makes them seem more realistic, more you-wanna-hang-out-with-that-person'ish. :) Great post!

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    1. Thanks, Dora! Your characters are always memorable. I love how they grow throughout the story.

      Yes, exactly! We want to read about real people. A writer could even start out with a rogue -- as long as they become honorable by the end of the story, we'll still like them and the story.

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