Who is your Hero…Now and Then?

Recently, on Twitter, Susan Taylor Brown tweeted about character traits she was considering for her hero. She tweeted about pairs of traits, because she was contemplating which of each set of two traits was true for this hero. I wish I could remember them now, but what struck me was the very subtle difference between the two qualities. I don’t think this was one of hers, but think about a pairing like “shy/reserved.” Close, similar, but with a difference–an important difference.

Susan’s tweets and staying away from my story for a couple of weeks got me thinking about my hero and who she really is. (Along with who goes why, but that’s the next step.) So this afternoon, I cleaned off the whiteboard, set Pandora to Pat Metheny, and got out the marker. Here’s what I came up with.


I didn’t work in pairs, like Susan did. (I also found nouns, verbs, AND adjectives popping out of the marker & just went wit that.) I broke the story up into who Caro is at/after four big plot points:

  • At the beginning/pre-beginning
  • After the early crisis
  • After the secret reveal/revelation
  • After the ending crisis (for Caro, “the march”)

Still, even without consciously thinking about pairs of character traits, I did end up with words that “go together.” I started out by thinking she was determined at the beginning, then realized she might not get there until after the first crisis. Even then I realized there was a difference between determined in the 2nd column and focused in the 3rd. I added narrowly to remind myself that she’s heading into a bit of tunnel-vision here. Which goes with furious. Originally, I had anger in that 3rd column, but realized she has plenty to be angry about already in the 2nd column, and she’d better be amping up in response to that revelation.

  • anger/fury
  • determined/focused

Yep. Trait pairings. Contrast, change, growth. What’s on your list?

Thanks, Susan!

You can follow Susan on Twitter at http://twitter.com/susanwrites.


  1. Robin L says:

    Wow,what a full whiteboard, Becky! And I’ve never heard the four major plot points named the way you name them. Very interesting. And helpful for remembering what each of those plot points need to do for the story.


    • beckylevine says:

      It’s sometimes scary how much comes pouring out when I let it, Robin! I love seeing your photos of your process, so I thought I’d stick this one up.


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