H is for Hero

 By Alison Bruce
"My heroes were always soccer players."

"My heroes have always been cowboys."
Willie Nelson

Setting aside the momentary heroes who open the door for you when your hands are full, or brings you a cup of coffee when you can barely keep your eyes open during an important meeting, what makes a hero? What sets apart a hero (used in the generic because heroine sounds like the drug) from ordinary people?
"Hard times don't create heroes. It is during the hard times when the 'hero' within us is revealed."
Bob Riley
It's the job of an author to give their main characters the kind of trials and tribulations that allow the hero within to emerge. A romance author has to go one step further an make their heroes gorgeous... or at least media-approved attractive. It's practically a defining characteristic of romantic hero.

Part of me balks at that. Beauty is as beauty does. On the other hand, the paramedic that joked with me after my car accident and jollied me through the ambulance ride from hell was, in my opinion at the time, the most handsome man in the world. That impression sticks with me even though I know that he'd never make it as a model for Sears, let alone GQ.

This doesn't mean I don't appreciate beauty in men and women (but mostly men). I just like my heroes to be defined by their actions, not their appearance. Chris Helmsworth as Thor is eye candy, but he has to earn his place as a hero in the story.

Which brings us back to what makes a hero.

"We are all ordinary. We are all boring. We are all spectacular. We are all shy. We are all bold. We are all heroes. We are all helpless. It just depends on the day."
Brad Meltzer

I think most of us have it in us to be heroes under the right circumstances... and most of us would deny being heroes. Even when we knowingly make sacrifices and especially when we only do what we think is right, heroes are other people. Not us.

That's as it should be for our fictional characters too. Other people may call them heroes. They should just do what they do.

Who are your heroes?


  1. After a career in health care, which includes the front line of SARs, my heroes are those who work in Emerg and Palliative care. The risks they take...
    But yes. I think a hero is the person who takes personal risks to help other people. Showing the risk, or what is at stake, is what makes a 'good' writer, and a good story.


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