I have this idea I’m working on, it has to do with stress as a factor in transforming a character into a hero. The basic premise is this: those with the ability, are compelled to use the ability. The more ability they have, the more powerful the compulsion. Resisting, or ignoring this compulsion to test themselves drives them toward deviancy over time, as the ability appears to test itself.

Talent, natural or cultivated, has a tendency to rise to the surface. Holding back one’s talent or ability will have the effect of creating “leaks.” Depending on the moral fiber of the character in question, they might then strive toward darkness or light. If they see themselves as restrained, they may fight back against their perceived captors. Stress builds up over time, and the greater the character’s talent, the greater the stress.

Eventually, you have a situation where the potential hero (or villain) sees injustice, nonsense, dishonor, poor judgment, or falsehood, that pushes them over the edge and they’re driven to do … something about it. Of course, it’s still possible that the potential hero won’t do something, if they’re determined to stay normal. It depends almost entirely on their determination and self-control.

Maybe they just remain a normal member of society (albeit an awesome one), or maybe they wind up going out and fulfilling one destiny or another. Part of the reason for developing the concept is to see what else comes out of it. It could be possible that everyone’s a hero in their own way, or that darkness, evil, and destruction come from unrealized and unfulfilled potential. But that sounds a bit anvilicious to me.

Ultimately, the point is to sow the seeds of becoming a hero, even if a turning point never occurs within the context of the original story. The seeds have been sown, and whether or not they sprout, ever mature, wither, or perhaps die before bearing fruit, you can see that something happened. The world always needs saving.