Along the lines of previous writing about the roles of heroes, protagonists, and main characters, this morning I was thinking about two kinds of heroes. I have this thought that “the hero” is the character who changes through the course of the story’s events (whether that change is for good or ill), suggests to me that there is more than one kind of hero, and a dividing line between hero types.

Tragic background aside, you generally need to overcome a character flaw to be the hero of a story, whatever that flaw may be. In a lot of stories, it’s ignorance of some great threat to the stability of the world, whether that stability represents the actual world, or just the world as you understand it. Maybe it’s just the end of your village.

That’s a good point to consider, actually. Why is the hero’s village (or kingdom, or home dimension, or home universe…) destroyed in the beginning of the story? To some extent, it’s to make sure they have nothing to keep them tied to one place, but there’s also motivation to prevent some greater catastrophe from happening to someone else’s village. (Or kingdom, dimension, or universe.)

I’ve gotten sidetracked. Anyway, there’s “the hero that changes,” which could really do with a role or title different from hero, but I use it ’cause it correlates with the idea of the hero’s journey. Then, there’s the character who’s actually heroic, you know, by what we consider a hero today. They represent the ideals and virtues of a person or group of people. Maybe “idol” would be a better term for this kind of character?

It took me a while — maybe years — to sort out the two types of characters. I know in the stories I’ve read, and the games I’ve played, I’ve frequently been let down by the “heroes,” where I was expecting a character more along “idol” lines. Who knows? Maybe the reason I’m drawn to write is based on the perception that media lack “idol” characters in line with what I expect? Characters in line with my own ideals?

Seems like reason enough to write, and it would certainly help to explain what draws me to the “heroic fantasy” genre in literature. Something for me to think about.