One thing most working writers know is that the success of your story depends on having a great hero. Whether it’s a child who escapes from an abusive orphanage, a teacher who suddenly gets laid off after thirty years without explanation, or a young lion cub who tragically loses his father, these heroes are the ones who take us on the emotional journey of your story.
So can any character be a hero? Well, in theory yes, but if your goal as a writer is to be a successful one, then the answer is no. And this is why – not everyone deserves to be a hero. As in real life, this respected and honoured title can’t simply be handed to someone on a silver platter. Instead it must be earned!
We, as an audience, connect with heroes that we can identify with and can believe in. Their struggles become our struggles. Their journey becomes our journey. And if we see them climb their way up the mountaintop, face their fears, learn their lessons, fight the dragon and (in some way) win, then we believe they have earned the title. We as humans need to see our heroes fall and get up again. We need to see them suffer and through the pain, grow wiser and stronger. We need them to go on a journey and it is only through this journey that a hero is born.
And if they can do it, maybe we can too? After all, aren’t we all ‘undiscovered heroes’, searching for that moment or that ‘something’ that will give our lives meaning?
Here's a simple exercise. Pick one of your favorite heroes from a book, film, TV series or real life. Write a paragraph about what they did in the story to become a hero.