Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Heroes and Heroines
Heroes and heroines are the most recognizable part of action/adventure. Even non-action/adventure readers will recognize Indiana Jones or Lara Croft. Jason Bourne is recognized as one of the greatest action movies ever made, no doubt do to Bourne's growth and change. The phrase "Bond, James Bond" has been quoted, parodied, and copied by many.
Writing heroes (From now on, I'll use the term hero generically for ease of typing) in action/adventure, is harder then it first appears to be.
First, a hero should be a hero. They may be ruthless or brutal. They might drink, smoke, or swear. Yet they have a code of ethics and hold to it. Good and evil is black and white to them. It probably helps that action/adventure villains are evil and despicable. The heroes are sort of paragons in a dark world.
Action/Adventure heroes fall into two categories: adventurers who don't really work for anybody and those working for the government. Which category also defines more than who the money is coming from. Government workers are often highly trained, prepared, and face conflicts caused by other humans. The other has far more scope; conflicts can range from finding lost treasures to unveiling a conspiracy discovered by accident. These are often archeologists, photojournalists, regular journalists, and recently, investigative bloggers.
The thing about action/adventure heroes is that they must be unique and recognizable. Back in the day when news-stands (Seriously, news-stands) were crowded with pulps about masked vigilantes, there had to be something to keep them different to sell. Indy's is his fedora and whip. Bond is well, Bond. He has his Aston-Martins and gadgets.
Names are important are well. They should have a heroic ring to them. Something medium length often works; 4-6 syllables. Indiana Jones. Jason Bourne. James Bond. The Shadow. Doc Savage. The Spider. Tarzan. Allan Quartermain (It's a longish one). Just give them something visual and something non-visual to be identified by.
Physically, they should be fit and in good shape. It's easier to take on enemies that way. Not super-human, but slightly above average.
Intellectually, it depends on your story. If it's a treasure hunt with traps, riddles, and things to be deciphered, they should be pretty smart. Otherwise, average but street-smart and witty.
They're heroes we can look up to, admire, and empathize with when they fail. It happens.
Don't take this as law, but it's what I've found to be.
Kaleb Krammer copyright 2011