The Monday-Murder-Chick (that’s me!) has donned her cape and is here to save you from all the talk of psycho killers and grisly murder plots. Because frankly, um, Allison, Natalie and Deb, are starting to scare me!
Karin would probably scare me if she’d stop tormenting us with her vacation stories. And just where has Karin hidden her Hot Cop List? Why isn’t she sharing that with us? We should know where all these hot cops are so we can do a little speeding…
Where was I? Hot Cops…ah! Heroes! Allison’s talk about how she comes up with plots for her books got me thinking about how I start a book. While there is murder and mayhem running around in the back of my mind, the place I start is with the hero (or heroine, we are not sexist here at Murder She Writes, unless of course, it will get us out of a speeding ticket.). I approach an idea from the view point the hero. What will drive this character to rise to heroism? What is in their past to make them vulnerable? What is the hero or heroine afraid of? What do they long for?
What is the worst thing that can happen to them? Why? And how can I make it worse? And when I do make it worse—will the character come through with a heroism streak they didn’t really know they had? Why? Because whatever the hero is going to do, whatever action he or she takes that is heroic, it has to cost them.
In my view, a hero is someone who rises to the occasion despite being afraid and knowing they will pay a painful price. Although the news is full of anti-heroes who get a sickening amount of face time, I’ll pick someone recently in the news to demonstrate what I mean: Rosa Parks. By all accounts that I have seen, Rosa Parks was an average, hardworking young black woman all those years ago when she chose to take a stand. I can well imagine that refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man was scary. She knew she’d be arrested, and any reasonable person would be afraid of that. But she believed being forced to do so was an injustice, and one day, she made a stand. There is no way she could have foreseen that she would become a touchstone for an entire civil rights movement. All she knew was that despite her fear and the price, she took a stand.
Now I’m not black and fighting for civil rights and my characters are fictional, but that kind of bravery that I’m looking for in my heroes… He or she is as flawed and human as any of us, but at some point, they make a choice. They come to the fork in the road and choose the right, but often harder, path. I have an innate curiosity about people who do that. The firefighter that runs into the burning building to save a life. The cop who puts his body between the shooter and the civilian. They are in the moment of high action, faced with a split second decision, a choice, and how they choose fascinates me.
I am more invested in the heroes of the books than the villains. As a writer, that forces me to develop the villain to make him a match for the hero. And that brings me to something a college creative writing teacher once told me—that I have romance in my soul. And I do. For once, I’m not talking about sexual/love romance, but a bigger romance. I believe in justice, in balance, in good winning out over evil, even though I know darn well people can be unfair, cruel and even murderous. That deep basic belief drives my need to create heroes, and read about heroes, who score one for the good guys, no matter the price. Although my dad died when I was 13 and I found out too quickly the world has too many anti-heroes—I still choose to believe in heroes.
Which might also explain why I’m wearing a cape 🙂
So what about you all? Do you believe in heroes?
Bonus Question: Does this cape make me look fat?