Thursday, March 1, 2012

What Makes a Hero?

"Most writers have experienced moments of sublime connection with their stories when both the prose and images poured forth perfectly." ~Dara Marks

Reading Ms. Marks' book about screenwriting is often like sipping a smooth cup of hot cocoa - soothing, sweet, and gentle; perfect for a cozy winter day on the couch.

Until she says something like this:

"There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the concept of likeability. In fact, I'm sure that most of us prefer our friends and loved ones to have that quality. However, when it comes to drama, likeability is about as important as hair color....If the only thing [your hero] needs by the end of his terrifying and death-defying ordeal is a clean change of clothes and a shave, why would anyone truly care?" ~Dara Marks

Photo Credit: Doc Dreyfus

After recovering from the shock of cold water in the face, I realize something important. Relevance comes primarily when our main character reflects our own flawed humanity, but overcomes anyway. Think about it for a minute. No one we know has actually benefited from a spider bite, and last I checked no one I know hails from the planet Kryptonite. You better believe I love a good Superman or Spiderman movie, but I don't walk out of the theater thinking I'm ready to take on Lex Luther. He's not real, and neither are Superman's powers.

True heroes spawn from the raw materials common to all. They are the ordinary neighbors who, incomplete with all their quirks and insecurities, face down mounting odds despite the fact that yesterday they would have not imagined it possible.

When an ordinary man becomes extraordinary on screen, we walk out of the theater empowered and energized, ready to face down whatever obstacles we went to the movies to escape. We rise to the occasion and rally in an effort to become the hero of our own story.

Become the Hero of Your Own Story
Photo Credit: Woondu

Finally ready to rally to my own occasion, I choose to stop running from my fears, turning on them with all that I have to bring. I somehow manage to stand, shaking in my boots, as they come straight for me, teeth bared. Drawing ever closer, they intimidate me. I wonder if I can really stand against them. After one more moment, I realize that by simply standing firm I draw from a strength deep within myself; a strength that gives me courage to stand one second longer, then another minute.

Pretty soon I find myself roaring at the thing bearing down on me, shouting at it with all my might:


And suddenly the thing turns tail and runs away. I continue to stand, still shaking, this time in awe and wonder. I did it! I found the courage within myself to face it down. I found the strength I never knew I had. I learned everything I needed to learn to stand my ground, and that beastly monster will finally leave me alone for good. Suddenly, I am the hero of my own story.



  1. After standing, stand firm. Good word!

    P.S. You're my favorite red-haired hero!

  2. I love this! :) Very encouraging.

    1. And it is very encouraging to me that you stop by and read my writing, Echo. Love you.