On Heroes

Every story needs a hero. Maybe that’s Frodo or Alice. Holden or Gatsby. Anne or Toby. There needs to be a character for the reader (viewer, whatever) to invest in. Someone in which the reader sees some part of themselves. The best heroes are ones in which the reader invests and identifies with on many levels.

But, as I discussed in a class recently, people are stories too. More than one story, in fact. Because our lives are complicated and multi-faceted and longer than just a single novel. We, I would argue, need heroes. People to show us how to live, and how to dream, and how to move forward toward the ending of our story — regardless of what that ending is.

My first hero was a woman named Deb. If you’re a friend of mine in the real world, I have spoken about Deb many times. She was the new teacher at 1451692537.jpgmy high school when I was in junior year. The path I walk these days is because of her. Not just because I am now an english teacher, but because i’m a writer. In her class, I learned to write, wrote my first short story, netted my first publication.

But more, she was more hero because she saw me. Not just the usual teenage angst and search for identity, but because she was able to see who I was trying to become. She challenged me to “Break on through” and “get thee to a city” (quotes from my year book that year that she wrote next to her head shot, because the photograph from the picture company that did the photos wasn’t good enough.

So when you are writing, or when you are living, think about what and who your heroes are. Search them out, find out what makes them tick and motivates them. A hero changes the lives of the people they interact with–good or bad. Pushing them farther to the end goal of the story.


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