How does a great book keep the reader turning pages continuously? Some will say a great plot full of intrigue and suspense. While this is true, it is not all there is to a great book. The reader must have a character to identify with, empathize and side with during the plot. The reader wants the hero to conquer against the odds and emerge victoriously, or in the case of a villainous hero, be discovered and defeated in his evil ways. A hero makes a great book memorable and gives substance to the plot. What makes a great hero in a novel?
A unique quality
There is a compelling quality in a great hero. He may be twisted and wicked, righteous and truthful, fascinating or unassuming. This unique character places him as the best placed to be in the situation that the plot presents. Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne is a deadly assassin who is often placed in situations with great odds against him but he can handle them with his mastery of the deadly arts.
The hero has a reason to act
The hero acts for a reason which is personal or touch a person or cause he cares greatly about. Lee Child’s Retired soldier Jack Reacher acts to help people in helpless situations which he feels he has to act against to correct acts of injustices committed by villains who think they can get away.
There is a problem to solve
A hero becomes one for solving a problem that others have been unable to do so or a problem that presented insurmountable odds. R.L. Stevenson’s Robinson Crusoe manages to survive on a lonely island without tools or any other form of outside help.
There is a unique flaw
Heroes are human after all and no one is perfect. Great heroes will have a flaw or two. Jason Bourne is a killer without a memory. He is often in great turmoil because of his past but tries to act to correct these wrongs that were done to him.
Something to lose
A hero will be acting to prevent the loss of something personal. This could be love, freedom or life. The hero fights to keep or gain back whatever is dear to his heart or those close to him.
A great villain
The hero will face a great villain who is sometimes better than him. Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes faces a criminal genius in the name of Moriarty who even he thinks cannot be overcome.
How do you create your heroes? Let me know in the comments below!