This is a very old entry to an essay competition at a fantasy writers forum. My vocabulary
might have grown by now, but my passion still stands.
The Protagonist: Rise of a Hero.
A true Hero
Can be found
Have you not experienced that feeling? The way a bundle of paper can impress you so, it
crushes your breath away… and the way words enchant you so, you forget to breathe at all.
The key, is the Hero. The person existing only out of text, who has the most power of all.
Yet, few have managed to unravel the mysterious ways of creation. The creation of a Hero.
We question, seeing that before questioning, there is no answer.
Is it the writer’s brilliance? Is it the novelist’s experience… its imagination… Or is it out of
the narrators hands …and is a Hero the sole being of accidental inspiration?
I repeat. Question.
Ask yourself… what you need, in a Hero. What others seek, in a Hero.
Lets examine the details. A Hero is obviously someone special… but how?
A Hero’s appearance could be as normal as that of the girl next door… or as odd as an
elaborately tattooed angel. Does a Hero require muscles? Does it need beauty? Is something
shallow as its shape, of such a great importance?
A Hero is defined by its character. This has a basic logic to start with. A Hero is made out of
words, so it is reasonable a Hero’s most important feature… is its personality, not its looks.
It has to have a reason to be a Hero. Yes, there are coincidental Hero’s, but ultimately, in
every book, a Hero has a goal. No matter if the Hero is aware of it or not, it has a destiny.
This brings us to the questions its surroundings evoke.
How does the Hero reason? How does it feel? As every creature, a Hero is influenced by its
environment. Does the Hero have problems? Does it have a passion, an obsession? Does the
Hero believe in a certain thing? These factors are essential for a Hero to be alive.
A Hero can not be perfect. Perfect people don’t exist, and Hero’s are the least perfect of all. If
it were perfect, why would it wish to be a Hero? Only ones flaws, can lead to great deeds.
This is true for all beings, including Hero’s. The point where you switch from person to Hero,
is where you learn your flaw and are affected by it. Why set out on a journey, without reason?
It doesn’t matter where you are going… as long as you know why you went.
An adventure never happens on purpose. You can wish for one… you can try to avoid it… It
does not matter. A Hero has no choice. A Hero is an adventure.
This leads back to the book itself. A book has a theme. A storyline. An adventure.
If the Hero is the adventure, the Hero is the book. This is the other way around. The book is
the Hero. This can simply be found back in the saying “My favourite book…”. It isn’t a book
we love, it is the Hero. We do not get attached to aging pieces of paper and badly designed
covers. We fall in love with the creature of the ink. The Hero.
A good book has excitement… a hint of magic, mystery…
This can only be fulfilled by a Hero. A Hero can only be fulfilled by its reader. Only the
reader can define a Hero, as a Hero. The writer, can write all it wants… the Hero, can try as
hard as it likes… in the end, the reader decides.
Then how do we manipulate the reader so, that it will appreciate the Hero we create? It is
possible, with the ancient magic of creativity and originality.
A Hero has to be someone, the reader has not seen, heard, or thought of before.
Do not mess your Hero up with an excessively violent history. It does not need rape or
maltreatment to be special. Do not immediately upgrade your Hero to a deity.
These examples might be interesting, if used carefully. Who does not love to read about
knights and wizards? No, don’t downgrade your Hero all the way to a simple civilian either.
Find a balance. Magic is good, if well described. Violence is all right, if used in moderation.
The only thing that is asked for in a Hero is a clear goal. A reason. Do not go and worry if it
the is Hero “cool” enough or not, because if you have ever read a good book, you know that is
A Hero has to grow on the reader, and it has to develop. It has to go through changes and
learn. The reader has to admire the Hero, yet understand its problems. The reader has to
believe in the Hero.
When you create a Hero, you will know. Trust me, you will know. There is no tutorial to read,
no class to follow. No one can explain to you, who your Hero is. Only you. You, and you
alone… will hypnotize the reader.
Are you not enlightened yet? A Hero comes from the heart. Your heart.
Words work like love. They touch the reader inside.
This is your goal. To touch. To transfer you, your Hero, to the reader. Letters do not form
words, they form an understanding. It is the language of pure fantasy. A language only known
by the writer. The Hero is the interpreter. The reader is the listener.
Hearing with its eyes, what only a Hero can tell.