Elements on How to Build a Good Hero on Your Stories

Elements on How to Build a Good Hero on Your Stories

By on September 11, 2013 . Category Column

By Stephanie M. Clarke


In every genre, a main character must have certain characteristics in order to be a good hero. This leading man for any fiction story should have qualities the reader not only recognizes, but also those which the reader can empathize with, even if not completely known to him or her. These elements are sometimes hard to pinpoint, but when you read a book with a good hero, you know it.


Believable strengths


A hero, unless he is a superhero with special powers, should be as close to a regular person as possible. He should have a job, a pressing passion or two in life, and should react to situations in mostly believable ways. No person is perfect, and if a writer crafts a perfect hero, the reader will call foul.


Even more believable weaknesses


Part of crafting a great hero is in giving him weaknesses the reader can relate to. Working hand in hand with his strengths, a hero must have flaws. The reader can develop empathy for a hero who makes a few mistakes but is overall a likeable guy. We all make mistakes and when we can triumph over them, the victory is more valuable.


A clear moral compass


A good hero may not always make the best choices, and he will make mistakes. However, his mistakes should derive from his clear moral compass. The values he holds dear must drive his actions and reactions, consistently. A good hero should not commit murder for the sake of it, or break any other commonly known ethical or legal rules, nor should he mistreat those weaker than he is.


A worthy adversary


The antagonist, or villain, in the story should be one who comes to the conflict against the hero with the potential to win the fight. It is much easier for readers to cheer for a hero who just may lose in combat, be it intellectual or physical, with the bad guy or girl. By showing the hero’s fight and ways he might come out the loser, the writer is able to give the reader a hero he or she wants to cheer for—and one whose triumph will be hard won and respected.


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