Heroes: A Wrap-Up — and Coming Next Week

Thanks to another great CSFF Blog Tour, it’s been a fascinating week around this blog. As I reviewed Blaggard’s Moon , I found myself faced with many things I could have said. I thought about writing on heroes — what they are in real life, what they are (and perhaps should be) in fiction. Blaggard’s Moon , with its very human characters, wasn’t always comfortable reading for me. I felt the same way when I read last month’s tour book, Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow . Both books reminded me of my own sinfulness. I don’t especially like that feeling.

In my own novels and stories, I tend to write about very good people. My heroes are heroic. Characters like Taerith in Taerith , Miracle in Burning Light , and Virginia in Worlds Unseen have even been accused of being TOO good. Blogger Chawna Schroeder posted at length about this issue of heroes and heroism. Here’s some of what she said:

I missed having a heroic hero . . . Yes, I know there are many kinds of protagonists in fiction, including the antihero and the unreliable narrator. But as a whole, the protagonist (the character who moves the story forward through their choices) should be fairly likeable with redeemable qualities and enough positive attributes that the reader shouldn’t feel uneasy about getting involved. This is especially true in speculative fiction, where the heroic hero is almost a requirement of the genre . . .

. . . in a world where role models frequently aren’t worth imitating and heroes are often anything but heroic, fictional protagonists who display strength, courage, compassion, grace, mercy, and other commendable traits under fire are desperately needed and deeply craved by readers today.

Rebecca LuElla Miller, who heads up the CSFF Blog Tour, commented on Chawna’s post earlier today with a counterargument :

As I see it, the world is propagating the belief that Mankind is good. A common theme in fiction, from TV to children’s books, is that all we have to do is reach down inside us and become who we are capable of becoming.

So I wonder, if a Christian writes a story with a heroic hero, won’t it look so much like that message of the world that readers may miss the point?

Both Chawna and Becky have excellent points. Personally? I think they’re both right. I think Christian fiction needs both — it needs George MacDonald-style heroes who mirror Christ and Polivka-style heroes who mirror us. We need both encouragement and warning; hope and horror. That balance should be familiar to anyone who walks in the Christian faith.

So now to you, my readers: I would love your thoughts. What type of heroes do you write? What type do you like to read about? What do you think of the points made by the bloggers quoted above?

Next week, talk of heroism continues as I review the groundbreaking film Pendragon: Sword of His Father , a feature-length movie made by homeschoolers. I’ll also be sharing an exclusive interview with Marilyn Burns, who helped write, design, produce, score, and even act in Pendgragon.







5 responses to “Heroes: A Wrap-Up — and Coming Next Week”

  1. Elisabeth Avatar

    Some of my favorite storybook characters are from The Lord of the Rings, where the characters are likable, but have realistic, human emotions such as fear, longing, pain, loyalty, temptation, etc. This is what I try to emulate in my writing.
    I agree with your summery, “We need both encouragment and warning; hope and horror.”
    And Taerith didn’t strike me as being “too good.” I absolutely loved him!
    I will be looking forward to your post about Pendragon. I loved that movie, and I’m really excited about reading your interview with Marilyn Burns.

  2. Elizabeth Avatar

    Rachel, I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts about “Blaggard’s Moon.” Good job! My only complaint is that you didn’t tell us – the guy who was going to die, was he saved at the last moment or did he die … ?!? *Smile!*

    I love your question about heroes.

    Personally, I write about “real” heroes. I don’t mean to imply that I write about paragons of virtue. In my opinion, a hero is not TRULY a hero if he is a paragon of virtue! A hero needs to struggle, to wrestle, to overcome. It’s the struggle that makes him a man and a hero. I prefer to read about guys like this, too. I recently read a book which was about a guy who was consistently weak and selfish, gladly giving into temptation rather than fighting it – I wasn’t inspired, just depressed. But that’s just me – and apparently the author had tried to write about a “real” guy. I guess … my attitude is that there’s enough failure and sorrow and suffering ruling the hearts and lives of people in real life, without reading about it ruling the hearts and lives of “heroes” in books, too! When I read, I want to be inspired to overcome my less-than-heroic side, not soothed and told, “It’s okay to be this badly flawed.” Again, that’s just me, though! *Smile!* I want to always write about “real” heroes, because I think there’s a lost world out there that desperately needs heroes – and heroines.

    I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts about “Pendragon: Sword of His Father” – I’ve heard about it, but not watched it yet. It sounds truly fascinating! *Smile!*

  3. Jason Joyner Avatar


    Hey, you may not have realized, but you were eligible for a contest when you left a comment on my blog last week during the CSFF tour. You won a copy of BoneMan’s Daughters by Ted Dekker. Stop by my blog for details on how to get your copy. Thanks,

  4. Chawna Avatar

    I think you hit it dead on, Rachel. We need all kinds of protagonists. Without any one of them, the picture of God and humanity would be incomplete.

  5. Yodeling Dwarf Avatar

    In my writing there seems to be a mix. But I try to stay away from both ends of the spectrum. It’s interesting to think about what makes us sympathize with certain characters and not others. I don’t think it depends entirely on morality. For instance, you could have a character with apparently perfect morals who is extremely lacking in intelligence and I think that could be a sympathetic character. And in some cases even villains can become sympathetic if they are portrayed in a humorous manner or shown to have been led to their evil characteristics by a troubled past that still haunts them. It’s all kind of hard to put a finger on.

    But I do agree with Becky’s point that we need to dispel the myth that Mankind is good. Portraying our need for a Savior is definitely a good thing to include in fiction.

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