Tuesday, 9 April 2013

H is for Heroics

I believe that heroics are part of what makes a story really good, whether it's swashbuckling with pirates, besting a dragon and rescuing a princess, or overcoming personal demons to save the day.

Heroics can also turn a supporting character from a one-dimensional background figure with very little personality to someone who in other circumstances could be the hero of a story in their own right. Good examples of this sort of character are Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter series, Dr John Watson in the Sherlock Holmes stories or Batman's young sidekick Robin. Each of these three characters play useful plot points - Dr Watson is the narrator who tells the reader about Holmes' adventures while Dick Grayson, Robin's alter-ego, makes Bruce Wayne more than just a man who fights crime at night; he is now a man with family responsibilities. And how many people aren't even a little bit glad when the sidekick gets his or her moment to shine? Who doesn't cheer when Robin comes in to save Batman from death just in time for Batman to go on and properly defeat the bad guys? Or when Neville stands up to Voldemort, risking life and limb because he believes in something?

The challenge for today is to take a supporting character from anywhere - your own story, a book, film, TV series, videogame, etc - and give that person the chance to shine in their own story for a change.

1 comment:

  1. All too often we see the sidekick reduced to nothing more than a sounding board from the main character to talk to. After all, the hero needs to keep the audience informed of how great he is so the author has him tell the sidekick (and by extension the reader). But you’re so right about making the sidekick more heroic.

    As a comic book nerd myself I enjoyed your Robin example. Over the years there have been many Robins in Batman mythology. The original (Dick Grayson) has grown up and been transformed into a fully fleshed out hero himself. He’s learned from the best (Batman) and is now the hero Nightwing. For a while he even adopted the mantle of Batman becoming the mentor to a newer, younger Robin. By allowing this supporting characters to have his share of heroic moments he eventually became a fantastic hero himself.