Saturday, November 27, 2010

Your Hero's Journey Starts with a Single Step...

So don't mess it up!

This topic came up after starting to edit a client's manuscript. You see the problem was her Hero was... perfect.

I don't mean just physically perfect, but emotionally perfect. Self-aware. Motivated. Loyal & honest. I kept reading waiting for that veneer to slip, but it only became more gilded.

Um... that's not a Hero or at least not one people are going to connect to.

And I'm not talking simply about the literal definition. I am talking about the bottom line of will readers be satisfied with the novel and give it good reviews and buy your next book.

Heroes MUST be flawed. Yes, I know some people get up in arms when I use the term must and especially when I capitalize it, but it is simply true.

Without an emotionally flawed Hero your story is nothing more than a series of events that happen TO your Hero. If your Hero is not emotionally affected by your story, then how is your reader going to be affected? #howIaskyou :-)

Now you can start with a Hero that seems perfect and let that facade crack as we get deeper into the story until it completely shatters. However I tend to let my Hero's flaws 'all hang out' so to speak. I want that immediate bonding with my reader.

"See. My Hero is just as whacked out as you are."

So take a look at your Hero. Point out at least 3 flaws within the first 10 pages. If you can't... Hmm... you might want to go add some :-)

To listen to Saturday's radio show archive on just this subject click HERE. And while you're at it, set a reminder for next week's episode "Turning Your First Act - A Guide to Getting it Right" Saturday at 2pm PST/5pm EST.


  1. Yes. The Hero must have a Deficiency and there are multiple challenges to be conquered. See or the associated youtube videos at

  2. oh my heroine is flawed as can be! from the get-go. but she's fairly self-aware and deals with her flaws well--she's a tough chick.
    there are things she doesn't know about herself, though, that slow her down.
    and she tends to bottle things up, making her problems worse. so when she has to 'snap-to' and get her butt into gear, it's not so easy ... her emotions go up and down and all around.
    she's normal and relatable, but also a definite heroine, as well...
    no completely normal girl could do what she does. and that's why i love her!

    i can't stand so-called *perfect* hero(ine)s. i want someone i feel could be a friend of mine ... or even me.

    love the post :))

  3. Without flaws, how will the author show the character changing as a result of the story? That's an important element of any novel.

    Of course, it could be argued that perfectionism is also a flaw.

  4. THis is true about the hero having a fatal flaw- it is very Greek. The most well known example is Oedipus but most modern fictional heroes are flawed (Luke Skywalker, Neo, Frodo etc...)