If your hero is a real person that preforms real actions, then they will get real reactions from readers. The oxford English dictionary defines a hero as “a person, typically a man, who is admired for his courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” Your standard hero is all well and good, but a hard-core hero is better. So, how then do you create a hard-core hero? Below are three helpful tips to perfecting a hard-core hero from beginning to end.
A Perfectly Imperfect Personality
Courage, dedication, perseverance, compassion, determination, virtuosity, wisdom, fortitude, conviction, these are the qualities of a perfect hero. But is that really what your readers want? The perfect hero is infallible, making them unbelievable, or worse, unrelatable.
A hard-core hero is perfectly imperfect, like Superman and kryptonite, or Wonder Woman and her bracelets. They are someone that can be idolized, but also seen as relatable. Thus, your hero needs to have a flaw. It doesn’t have to be a tragic flaw, like an Achilles Heel, but it should bring them off the top pedestal most old school heroes are placed on.
A flaw or imperfection often turns out to be what we love most about our favorite heroes. Even though most readers don’t particularly like the rude, self-indulgent part of Sherlock Holmes’ personality, they still love him as a character. At the end of the day, he is 100% dedicated to doing what is right and obtain justice for those who have been wronged, even if he breaks a few laws to do so. Readers connect with a hero not only because they aspire to be like them, but because they identify with their humanity – even if the hero isn’t human.
Appearance and Abilities
Your hero’s appearance and abilities are almost as important as their personality. The wrong look or lack of superior skills set can take your character from a hero to a herno. Picture your favorite hero. What do they look like, how do they dress, what skills do they have? Now why do you think they were written that way? Once again, a hard-core hero needs to be someone that can be looked up to. While this can mean or look like many different things, depending on the type story you are writing, one fact remains the same – your hero must be superior in either looks or abilities…possibly both.
When designing a hard-core hero, you will most likely want them to have some sort of superior skill in things like hand to hand combat, sword fighting, martial arts, or the use of firearms. While that is highly recommended, be sure you don’t go overboard. Remember, you need your hero to be relatable. Additionally, it is advisable to give a back story to this obtained skill. For example: martial arts – he has been training with his guardian since he was a young boy.
Some of the best hard-core heroes are stunningly handsome or have a killer wardrobe, but most of our favorites have a single attribute or totem that makes them stand out or endears them to us. For example, Thor has his hammer, Elizabeth Bennet always has a book, even Harry Potter had his perpetually broken glasses and his scar, of course. If all else fails, you can give your hero that extra oomph by giving them only one name. Namely, heroes like Hercules, Lolita, Blade, or Batman. While they likely have full names, we don’t know what they are, and definitely don’t use them!
A Purpose in Life
Your hero needs to have a dream, a goal, or a quest. This will give the reader something to root for. Just be sure that your hero’s purpose is a valiant or pure one. If he/she is on a mission of a questionable nature, it will likely negate all the hard work you put into perfecting his/her character. Like the hobbits from Lord of the Rings, they are on a noble quest, but who or what will they become in the process. Your reader wants (needs) a full or well-rounded hero. They need to know that your hero can take on any manor of challenges and come out the other side a better person for it.
A couple suggestions might include giving your hero a personality quirk or a skewed perception of reality, so they can face their downfall and experience personal growth or change. Better yet, if your hero lives by a code, they could face a situation where this code is called into question, and they must learn that the world is not as black and white as it may seem. Really, the possibilities are endless!