Heroic Journey

Greek HeroWhen a hero or heroine sets out on The Quest, are we supposed to like them? I find myself wanting both things at once.  I want my protagonist to be likable enough that if she loses her way in a dark forest or breaks her arm from a fall, we experience empathy.  I want people to want her to win.

In my attempts to make a charismatic character, I sometimes find that I make them too “vanilla” because I’m worried that something “rough” about my character might force them to sacrifice the reader’s loyalty.

However, the more I write, the more I realize that my reader will be loyal to my character, no matter what the character does, just so long as that character is honest.  Sometimes, it’s the painful honesty that strikes a chord within the reader (‘Oh yeah, I’ve thought about doing that, too’).  A habit of stealing, or even of violence, which comes from a desperate upbringing is not repulsive.  The thief or bully who has no signs of a history of an abuse is much less compelling.  So when I study my villains and my heroes, I must study their families, the house where they were born, their first love, their beliefs about death, etc.

Suddenly, my characters begin to take on flesh and blood, and worries about empathy no longer exist.  After all, what hero walked around in their stories and thought, “I sure hope whoever reads my life story will like me”?

Mythical Journeys

muses sculptureI’ve found it hard to get away from the attraction that Greek myths have held for me.  Ever since the morning I opened a thin black volume, containing easy-to-read paraphrases of Greek myths, I’ve been absolutely fascinated with the stories that always played with high stakes–stories that quite often (and usually more often than not) ended with a devastating tragedy.

The unfairness of life was captured here.  The plight of a mortal at the mercy of a powerful and capricious god was here.  The endless journey and sacrifice for the sake of love was here.  The magic was here.

And so I begin.  I open the tomes before me.  Twenty lines spans twenty years, and I keep asking myself why Heracles killed his wife and was still a hero, why lovely Helen allowed Troy to be pillaged and gutted without flinching (or did she?), and why the Sirens allowed Odysseus’s ship to pass their island if they were such seasoned pros.

I use my pen and my voice to seek answers to these questions.