What Makes a Hero?

I’ve been binge watching the Arrow over Christmas. Just finished season 3, so I’m done until season 4 is on DVD. I guess I can get back to writing. The show made me wonder, what is a hero?

400154_238116682988900_1446866781_n

I would use the google definition but it ticked me off when it said, typically a man!

According to Webster (1983):

  1. a mythological/legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability.
  2. a man admired for his achievements
  3. illustrious warrior
  4. one that shows great courage
  5. the main male character in a literary work
  6. central figure in an event.

Hmmmm, not sure I approve of all that! I’m not going to rant about the capabilities of women. I’m using Hero as gender neutral.

When I think over the mountain of books I’ve read over my life, certain types of heroes come to mind. This isn’t the scholars list of heroes, this is just how I see them.

  1. The Perfect One: The hero is perfect. He/she has no problem in making a decision. There is only one way. Everything is black and white and they never drift over to the dark side. I call this the Superman hero. Like Superman they never make a wrong or questionable decision. He never cheated on Lois Lane and sent Lex Luther to prison for his terrible crimes. These are great heroes when we are young, but as we grow they begin to seem flat and unrealistic.
  2. The Lonely One: The hero that remains alone, even after saving the world. He separates himself from the rest of society either because of the chaos he has seen or the baggage he carries. He/she is destined to be alone. Poor Frodo suffered this fate. He destroyed the One Ring only to return to the Shire alone. I assume you know how it ends after her returns. He didn’t get the girl, Sam did. It’s a bit melancholy but believable. You undertake this great quest, how do you return home and be happy? I don’t think it was just from the blade of Mordor. I think Frodo’s scars were mental as well.
  3. The Chosen One: This hero is the only one who can defeat the villain. No one else has the skill, ability, or prophesy to do so. These heroes are readily available on every YA shelf. Harry Potter is the chosen one…or is he? Sorry couldn’t resist. For whatever reason this hero must defeat the villain, that is his only purpose. The overall plot surrounds the ultimate battle.

    Heroes in waiting.

    Heroes in waiting.

  4. The Scholar: Not all heroes use their physical strength. Some use their mind. I love these. They’re smart. Take Hermione Granger. No matter what Harry was capable of, he could not have survived without the intelligence of Hermione. Brute force only takes you so far. Someone has to know how to break into the enemies computer system and unleash a nasty virus. Some may say this is the realm of the sidekick, I disagree.  They are heroes.
  5. The Misfit.  This one is popular in YA. The hero that is a total screw-up and only becomes a hero when tested. But even then, they make huge mistakes. They usually lack experience and are thrust into battle unprepared and must learn as they go. We cheer for these because we see ourselves in them. If they can be a hero, why not me? Percy Jackson comes to mind. Like the Perfect One, we outgrow these as well. Eventually this hero must grow and become something more.
  6. The Amateur: This isn’t your traditional Fantasy genre hero. The one I’m thinking of is usually found in the cozy mystery genre. The every man/woman. Usually a woman. She’s living her life and then out of no where someone dies. She’s tasked with the burden of solving the crime. No experience in law enforcement, just smart and nosy. Miss Marple comes to mind. She’s not a traditional hero, but she saved many from jail and others from murder. She’s persistent. This hero is consumed with righting wrongs and keeping the innocent out of jail. No super powers necessary.

    Knights in the woods.

    Knights in the woods.

  7. The Warrior:  We love a warrior. They fight the epic battle of good vs evil. They are the knights, soldiers, and samurai. They fight for the cause regardless of personal loss or danger. They are battered, bruised, and blooded. Good warriors have a dark side. They have seen and done terrible things in battle. But they stand true to the cause. Think about Beowolf, Lancelot, and Jamie Frasier. That last one is my favorite. It’s not uncommon for their lives to be tragic.
  8. The Anti-Hero: This is my personal favorite. They are dark, angry, and cross every line imaginable. They aren’t always a hero, sometimes they are the villain. Everything is grey. Every decision they make is based on their perception of the cause. In comics, Wolverine is the perfect anti-hero. I would place Professor Snape in this category as well. He even died not wanting the world to know he was a good guy. This is the hero that will kill an innocent, if it will stop a worse fate. They make difficult decisions other heroes would shy away from.  Anti-heroes have layer upon layer of back story and experience to play with. They keep the reader guessing.  In a world where the lines are continuing to blur, the anti-hero is becoming more relevant.

There’s probably dozens of other examples and types of heroes. These are the ones that kept me awake last night. My newest project is the tale of a hero. I am sorting out the character and the kind of hero she will be. It’s so much fun.

What is your favorite type of hero?

Who is your favorite hero?

-CK

 

 

Boo- Lafayette Cemetery, New Orleans

Happy Halloween

It seems that cemeteries on Halloween are a running theme with me. The Lafayette Cemetery is famous. Play the music as you read.

Background:

Lafayette Cemetery is an above ground cemetery built in 1833 and it was the second Protestant cemetery in New Orleans. You know how dangerous Protestants are! Sorry, bad joke. Yellow Fever almost filled it up by 1840. The tombs are usually used by entire families for generations. Each person interred has their name carved into the stonework.

100_9639These above ground cemeteries have been called Cities of the Dead. And with good reason. It’s laid out in neat rows. It feels like a miniature city as you navigate the avenues. A rather creepy city.

100_9664

 

 

The dead are buried above ground because New Orleans is a bowl. It floods. Crypts keep the dead contained and not floating down the street.

 

100_9647

 

New Orleans is famous for it’s cemeteries and funerals. Honestly, who wouldn’t want a jazz band and second line at their funeral? I want one.

The Lafayette Cemetery is famous. Anne Rice used the cemetery for the backdrop of several scenes from Interview with the Vampire. She also held a fake funeral to promote her book, Memnoch the Devil.

If that isn’t enough, The Originals (TV), features the cemetery. I will admit, the only reason I have wat

100_9654

ched that show is because it shows New Orleans, and I love New Orleans.   I don’t know what happened to the resident of this tomb. Any ideas?

Hope you all have a great Halloween. Don’t stay out too late, NaNoWriMo starts in the morning! Don’t eat too much candy.

Do you have a favorite cemetery?

-CK

NaNoWriMo Survival Kit

NaNo is next week. The day after Halloween my behind will be in a chair writing. Before I can do that I need my survival kit.

Caren’s Survival Kit

  1. Chocolate! Loads and loads of chocolate. After church on Nov 1 I will be at Target buying discount candy. You never know how many trick-or-treaters we’ll have, so I can’t count on having leftovers. Sugar =success.
  2. Caffeine–  Coffee, tea, coke you name it. I plan on stock piling it all. I’m starting ahead with freezing double strength coffee in ice cubes to make frozen coffee shakes.
  3. Crock pot meals– let’s face it. If I’m writing I’m not cooking. That means it’s goin’ in a crock pot. Stock up on veggies and chunks of meat that can be magically turned into a meal without much work from me.
  4. Grab and Go snacks–  Granola, yogurt,popcorn, and pretzels are perfect munchies to eat while writing. Can’t survive on chocolate alone…or so I’ve heard. Bonus points for treats that are not messy and can be eaten with one hand.
  5. Music– I just loaded up my Ipod with new tunes. I’m on the search for Halloween inspired music since my NaNo project is set during Halloween. Music is great inspiration.  Also good for spontaneous dance parties when the stress is too much.
  6. Writing Buddy– Everything’s better with a buddy.  Kitty is mine. I know her name’s not very original, especially for a writer! She’s always ready to curl up next to me when I start working.

Kitty

I think those are the important things. Besides lots of writing supplies and reference materials.

What’s in your survival kit?

-CK

NaNoWriMo Prep 101

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. I am signing up for my second year. I actually won last year, but it’s still sleeping on the shelf. I’m no expert on NaNo, but I thought I would share a few of my NaNoWriMo prep tips. I’ll include links at the end for websites with more information to help you along.

First off, I am a planner!

 

Planner Badge

If you don’t believe me look at this:

100_9619These are the scene cards for the 2015 NaNo Novel I am writing. I’m about 3/4 of the way through with the plotting. I don’t usually use note cards. Normally, I write a massive flowchart on art paper, but I’m not set on the sequence and want to play with it a bit. This is book 3 in my mystery series. The story takes place just before Halloween. You can expect plenty of small town high jinks. Originally, this was going to be a short story, but the characters disagreed.

I’ve also roughed out the character sketches for the villain, victim, and scapegoat. There will be more minor characters as I write but theses are the main new characters to my imaginary world.

My plotting/planning is a composite of many different processes I’ve read about. The Weekend Novelist Writes A Mystery by Robert J. Ray and Jack Remick  was very useful when I wrote my first novel and I use a lot of ideas from that book. Especially on characters. Another good resource I use is, How to Write a Damn Good Mystery by James N. Frey.

I’ve got my plot cards and my characters. Now what. On my calendar, yes I have an actual calendar, I have blocks of time marked off for planning my novel. Even though I have the bones of my novel, there’s still planning to do. Several characters have not shown up for work this week. I don’t know if they aren’t in this book yet or not. Because this is part of a series, I have to work on the series plot/character arcs. There are certain subplots that run through my novels and I have to make sure they show up in this one as well. That’s still on my to do list.

Let’s not forget research. I have a little more research to do on Iran, poison detection, and abusive relationships. Fun book!

Recap,

NaNoWriMo Prep 101

  • character sketch
  • plot main scenes
  • research
  • line up subplots

If you are participating in Nano, or thinking about it, here are some sites that may interest you:

NaNoWriMo–  this is the official site’s prep page

Writer’s Digest–  nice article on outlining vs not outlining

Write it Sideways– tips and resources

SurlyMuse– a hot off the presses post about prepping for NaNo in seven days or less

There you go, that should keep you busy for a while. If you are participating you can find me under the name: writechik!

What’s your plan for NaNo?

CK