Human Heros

Some time back, one of my critique buddies offered up the first draft of her story. By chapter two, I was hating her hero. Not because he was an ass. I'd have liked him better if he had been. No, I hated him because he was too good, too noble, too self-sacrificing, too calm in the face of adversity. In short, too fricking holier-than-I. Yes, I hate him because he a better person than I am. 

It was a revelation.

This goody-two-shoes had a suicidal mother in a sanitarium that he'd been visiting regularly for years. Did he ever think "Life would be so much easier if one of her suicide attempts succeeded?" No. The closest he came was to wonder if they should have let her die when she tried it, which came across as noble because his concern was for her suffering. I resented him for being so much of a better person than I suspect I would be. I wanted him to be more like me.

As an author, I think it's wiser to make the hero's responses to adversity mirror the readers' weaknesses. It improves the readers' ability to relate to the hero. It also gives the author the opportunity to torment the hero with guilt for having such base, selfish thoughts—another point we would share with him.

Have you ever hated a character because they were too good?

1 comment:

  1. The totally selfless character is just too good to be true- and hence not all that interesting.