MAKING A HERO, a lesson

A Hero Is Born

Rising from the story ashes

Has this ever happened to you:

You’re going along in your story world following great characters down lots of plot twists, when suddenly you realize that the story has gone in a direction all on its own, as if its own entity, without your assistance?

What do you do? How can you fix it?

There’s only so much you can do when dealing with a runaway story. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Delete it—Many times you feel you can’t fix the problem because the story is so far from the original idea that you don’t know how to get it back on track. That’s when the delete button calls to you.
  • Toss it—If you’re like me, you write freehand and when the story stops working, the shredder taunts of its insatiable hunger for your words.
  • Drawer it—You could stick the manuscript in a drawer and never look at it again. Or you could look at again in the future. But by then, the story will be so far from your original idea you will no longer own it, having been hijacked by your characters with permanent injuries and great loss. You could probably assume you won’t ever touch the drawered story again.
  • Fix it—The hardest option, yes. But what do you do when all seems lost, and one character won’t stop talking to you, won’t get out of your head? You fix it.

“I can fix this,” some character whispers. And you know at that moment a hero has been born.

From the ashes comes…

The corrupt world is an awesome place for a hero to rise from the ashes. It’s what pushes Katniss Everdeen and Harry Potter and Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent. The people on a whole are weak or sheltered or afraid of those in power over them. A dysfunctional homeostasis has been reached and someone needs to tip the scales for the greater good.


Create a scene that will produce a hero. It can be a broken system or family, a lawless or ruthless society, or a situation in which there is a sense of hopelessness. What elements of oppression and despair can you build into your story and characters? Can you kick it up a notch or layer it on a grander scale so it isn’t just about a boy who loses his parents, but also about a city that has lost all hope (Batman)?

MAKING A HERO, a lesson

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