Somebody Else Says: Nathan Bransford (and Me) on Redeemability
Okay, I know it’s starting to feel like this is a bit of a cheating week for me. First, I the WONDERFUL and BRILLIANT Shrinking Violets guest post for me. (I know how much you all loved that, though, so no guilt here!). Then I resort to a visual image, no words, about my workday, and I didn’t even find that image myself–Nastassja Mills did! And now, I’m sending you over to read Nathan Bransford’s blog.
Still, no guilt. Because Nathan is always worth listening to, and also because I am going to throw my own two cents into the pot here. Nathan’s basically talking about how to make it work that your hero does something horrible or has a pretty nasty flaw. And his basic idea–although he says it much better and in more detail, so you MUST go read the post–is that you do this by redeeming your hero.
What I started thinking about, though, as I read the post is that this implies another need, perhaps. And that would be the need to have our hero do something “bad” to start with. Yes, I’m still buried in Donald Maass’ workbook and theories, but this seems to me to fall under that big umbrella of pushing our heroes past our their limits.
I am having the sense as I think about my fiction WIP and draft out a few early scenes that I’m making my hero pretty darned, well…heroic. That’s okay. In fact, that’s good. Some pretty nasty things happen to her, and she’s going to have to be strong, or to repeat the highest praise I’ve ever heard about any heroine from literaticat—kick-ass. But…
She can’t be Wonder Woman. (For one thing, the story is set in Chicago, 1913–in MARCH, and that outfit would be completely inappropriate.)
One of my goal for this character is to find out what she does wrong. It has to, I think, be a necessary wrong and one that is ultimately a critical part of her quest and growth, but it does have to be bad.
What about your heroes? Do they wear cloaks because they’re hiding something? What’s really under that mask? How bad can you make them? And how will you, as Nathan says, redeem them?