Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The good, the bad and the ugly... (Part I)

There are many sorts of heroes/protagonists out there, some I love, some I totally despise reading about. Nearly all characters out there fall into one personality trait. So, this is some of the categories I've seen heroes fit into:

1. The "nothing can stop me"... a.k.a the Superman
This is the hero who seems to be able to do anything, and their powers seems to be growing (especially if it's a series). Their strengths outweigh their weakness. Believe it or not, I've actually seen a lot of these characters around, and the one problem I find with them (don't get me wrong, being oh-so-perfect can sometimes be a good thing) is that most of the time they miss the one thing that makes a character "human". They don't have flaws, so how can the reader be expected to relate to characters like that?

2. The damsel in distress 
This character is very common in romances. She needs to wait around for her prince charming to come and rescue her. The one good thing about this character is that they end up with multiple guys vying for their attention in modern stories, and they usually find their "true love" with the guy who is rescuing them. I actually despise this sort of character (no offense), I would rather have a kick butt, take no crap from anyone heroine than

3. The "I don't wait for no one" damsel
 This damsel will solve her own problems (usually making more along the way). She will take crap from no one and do her share of butt kicking. Strong and determined, she often spends most of the story arguing with the guy and not following a word he says... and for some reason, she usually ends up with the guy at the end. I absolutely adore these sorts of protagonists. Most of the time they definitely have a lot of spunk, and a little bit of a rebellious spirit.

4. The "I'm not all evil" hero... a.k.a the anti-hero
 These can be one of the most interesting heroes to follow. The Antihero is someone with some of the qualities of a villain, up to and including brutality, cynicism, and ruthlessness, but with the soul or motivations of a more conventional Hero.

5. The "all the world's against me" hero
Who doesn't love an angst-filled hero? This type of hero are usually outsiders and don't fit in with anyone (or don't want to fit in). This type of hero often appears in paranormal stories where the main character has some kind of power that labels them as "freaks" among their peers. Sometimes they just don't want to fit in with everyone else, and they can be labeled as goth or emo.

6. The "life has never been kind" hero... a.k.a. the unlikely hero
Probably the most seen hero archetype in YA. This type of character has usually suffered a great loss in life and they haven't been treated well. Most of the time they are orphans who have to live with mean relatives who do not want them, other times they are shipped away to distant relatives/boarding school because the parents either don't want them or can't handle them.

There is something about this type of character that allows the reader to sympathize with them. Oh, don't I just love underdogs.

7. The "what the heck, it's only an adventure" hero
 These heroes just stumble into the action. They have no special power or involvement with the events prior to the start of their journey. Most of the time they are just looking to have an adventure, sometimes treasure hunting can be involved to get the hero involved.

When it comes to deciding my protagonists I love using the kick-butt heroines or the unlikely hero. I love adding flaws to my characters, the more the better. This is probably why I absolutely abhor the damsel in distress and the Superman, I don't like weak characters and ones that have absolutely no weaknesses (they don't make for interesting story lines).

So, what sort of characters do you use with your stories? Which characters don't you like reading about?


Andrew Rosenberg said...

I've been writing a bit of #3 lately. Sort of combined with #7. In fact my "damsel" rescues the man at one point. But in the end he rescues her. Not cause she needs it, more to return the favor.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Mine character is a little bit of #5, but he's more determined - "I'll make my own way and succeed, damnit!" kind of guy.

And I've never been a big fan of the antihero.

Lydia Kang said...

My MC is the kick-butt heroine type too. I love that kind of heroine!!!

This was a great summary of heros. Great list!

Jemi Fraser said...

I think my characters start off as underdogs and end up much more kick-ass than they started. :)

Deb Salisbury, Magic Seeker and Mantua-Maker said...

Great list! I get soooo tired of the #5s. Whining is boring.

I'm quite fond of #3s, though. They get things done! Usually the wrong things, but that's half the fun.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I like #3 the best. Girls who can handle their own are fun to read and fun to write!

Stephanie Lorée said...

I read #3 and #4 the most, and it's also what I write. One of my major characters is sort of the villain, but not, so I like to think of him as the anti-tagonist. :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Ha! This is great. I love kick-butt heroines and used Buffy's sidekicks in my post today to promote your blogfest. Yay, BTVS!

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