In order for me to continue reading (or watching) a story then the hero has to be intelligent. There are reasons why I enjoy Sherlock and Elementary (or any variation of the Holmes mythology) and it has very little to do with the physical appeal of either lead actor. It’s because I loved the character when I read him.
I wrote a Top Ten list for myself several years ago and I revisited it in order to see if my tastes had changed any. The answer is no, by the way. I’m pretty much still on the hunt for a real life James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser. That’s the main hero from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, which I hear is coming to television in the spring.
In order to answer this month’s Round Robin topic I decided to really dissect Jamie and see what made him so likable for me. Here’s what I came up with.
#1) He’s smart.
The poor guy is engulfed in political machinations between his two uncles when we meet him. But he’s managing to keep from having to swear allegiance to the clan (they’re Scottish, for those who haven’t read the books) until the girl comes along and kind of messes things up for him. But even when he is presented to a mob of drunk Scottish men he manages to decline swearing to the clan without getting himself killed in the process.
#2) He’s brave.
In the series Jamie has managed to live through several battlefields, but more than that he faces down his personal demons quite often. I don’t want to tell more because I don’t want to ruin the books for anyone who hasn’t yet.
#3) He laughs.
I meant it last time when I said that laughter was the truest sense of strength in a person. It isn’t just for women, it’s for men too. A hero has to be able to see his own weaknesses and faults and laugh at them just as much as a heroine does. (Double points if they can laugh at each other and not get annoyed at the other person because of it.)
So … that’s it. Those are the three reasons why I love Jamie Fraser, and they’re what I look for when I’m doing my writing as well. It probably goes without saying that I dislike brooding characters no matter which gender they happen to be. Broody people make my eye twitch.
That goes for real life too.
But honestly, there are authors and genres that I specifically avoid because of the “brood factor.” If a character is so torn up about their past then they are far too weak for me to enjoy. I get that there is a period of grief for loss, I really do. And I know that grief is something that lasts a lifetime. But what I need, what I want, what I look for in a hero is someone who has managed to deal with that grief and live again.
And I prefer if they’ve managed to do this before Chapter One.
Round Robin Continues! Check out what some of my fellow authors have to say about this subject!
Diane Bator at http://dbator.blogspot.ca
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/
Lynn Crain at http://lynncrain.blogspot.co.at/
Beverley Bateman at http://beverleybateman.blogspot.com/
Ginger Simpson at http://mizging.blogspot.com
Connie Vines at http://connievines.blogspot.com/
A.J. Maguire at https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (You are Here)
Rhobin Courtright at http://rhobinleecourtright.com/
11 thoughts on “What Makes a Hero? – Round Robin”
I am so with you on the brood factor. I have long since graduated from high school. If I meet a brooding man, I leave.
Perhaps I will have to read Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I haven’t tried it yet.
I hope you do read the Outlander series! It’s rich with history and has some great characters.
I like your post and the way you dissected Jamie……and pointed out the qualities you love in a hero. Oh, and I agree on the brooding.
Yeah. I dislike broody characters. Then again, I am a “glass half full” person so I tend to twitch whenever a “glass half empty” vantage comes into play.
Enjoyed your dissection, but I ruled out smart when I realize one of the reasons I love my husband is because of how he’s made it through life without an education. He graduated high school with a fourth-grade reading level because dyslexia wasn’t diagnosed then. I guess that proves his strength to me because as an author, I’m also an avid reader, and I feel sad that he’s never had the pleasure of escaping to new places and living life in the shoes of someone else, but proud, proud, proud, that he has tackled whatever needed tackling to make it to retirement and being a senior citizen.. 🙂 I’m also not into brooding men.
Well, intelligence isn’t measured by what school you go to. You can be intelligent without having gone through a masters program or something like that. Intelligence is measured more by how you use what you know.
I loved your blog, AJ! Ginger, your husband has had to be smarter than anyone! While reading and writing may be an issue, he’s a genius for figuring out how to cope without those skills! A hero is someone who can take on life’s challenges and make the best of them.
As for brooding men…no use for someone who can’t find the bright side of anything.
There’s smart and there’s educated–2 different things. My hair person has only a high school diploma, but she’s owned her own business for all of the 24 years I’ve known her. She helped raise her 13 siblings because her parents had addictions, and she’s raised her own 2 with the loving help of her husband who does duct work on houses. She’s not educated, but she’s one of the smartest people I know, and I’ve told her that. I’ve got an English degree, but my husband has only a 2-year tech degree that he’s parleyed into becoming a senior engineer. He also has dyslexia, so he always has to be extra diligent about NOT switching numbers around in formulas or when doing our income taxes. But he works at it and overcomes his problems. And I think he’s the sexiest hero I know!
Intelligent doesn’t mean the person has to have gone to school. I’m sure Jamie, the character mentioned in the post, didn’t have any tutors who taught him how to handle a highly explosive situation like the matter of pledging allegiance to a particular clan. If I remember correctly, he managed to show support without becoming a member of the clan and then sealed that support and earned the respect of all the men in the scene by drinking some very heavy alcohol.
They don’t teach you that in school.
Marci, I agree about the brood factor. The only time it seems socially acceptable in in a Victorian novel.
Honestly, I’ll throw a book to Goodwill if I read the lines; “He’d been duped before.” or “Could he trust her?” or “He wanted so badly to let her in, to let her know the real (insert applicable name here).”
Or … oh, gracious … something along the lines of this …
“His life had become one endless loop of desolate, aching darkness. All the verve had left him when (insert appropriate tragic moment here) and he was convinced it would never come back.”
I acknowledge that we all go through times when we brood. I had about a week of it myself when I got the edits back for one of my manuscripts the other week. But I don’t want to live through 200+ pages of a fictional account of it.