HERO OR ANTI-HERO?
What does Jack Reacher have in common with Holden Caulfield? On the surface not very much. One is young, inexperienced, gets himself into circumstances he can’t handle; the other, cynical and older resolves difficult situations. What they do share is they both see themselves as alone, and apart from what is considered mainstream society.
Both are regarded as anti-heroes.
An anti-hero is a protagonist who displays a different set of characteristics to those normally seen in a traditional protagonist. A classical hero/heroine is portrayed as having courage, moral strength, idealism, and who overcomes their internal and external challenges.
An anti-hero is a protagonist who doesn’t display such noble characteristics, but instead has a flawed nature. They may, like Holden, have unresolved issues, have a criminal past as does Jay Gatsby, or take the law into their own hands. The glamour of a Robin Hood, with his means justifies the ends scenario, even though outside the law and performing criminal acts, shows the enduring attraction of an anti-hero.
Traditional heroes are bigger than life, whereas anti-heroes display more unattractive personality traits. One of my favourite anti-heroes is Alec Leamus, from The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, where the protagonist is a whisky drinking, introverted and disillusioned spy.
Yet we are drawn to the rebel, the loner, the knight in shining armour who arrives, deals with the problem, and departs. The advantage of an anti-hero is that we can not only identify with their flaws, self-doubt, jealousy - for we have them too - but, as writers, we can take those weaknesses and use them as a tool for shaping a story.
I’m in the final stages of finishing up this year’s nano novel. I had hoped to strengthen my writing muscle and up my daily word count, but at the moment I'm taking it a bit slower than in November, returning to my normal writing pattern. But I am happy to have the first draft of something I really like – only time (plus more writing, and - slush pile alert - let's not forget the editing) will reveal if anyone else feels the same.
Next week, I’ll return to my novel, with completion of final revision, enquiry letter etc., and sending off to agents/publishers etc. This is a goal I creep towards at an infinitesimally slow pace, but which nonetheless hope to achieve by December 31st.
Due to the nano, I’ve been less active on Google+ and Twitter, though I hope to get back up to speed soon. I have contradictory feelings about social media. On the one hand I enjoy interacting with other writers – that’s a real bonus – and love it when I discover a post I learn something from; on the other hand, I sometimes resent how much of my time it takes, and wonder will it make any real difference in terms of books bought; and to cap it off, I miss it when I’m not participating!
she waits outside, cold,
ire builds, yet when he arrives -
she fakes a sweet smile
A post with some good practical advice on rule breaking:
Good old Wikipedia: always worth checking out what they have on a subject.
Join me on Twitter at: teagankearney@modhaiku
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.
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