Day 28, #NaNoWriMo: Being Heroic

A key way to make your character feel more sympathetic and also to increase tension in your book is to provide moments of heroism for your character. It doesn’t have to be Superman type heroism, rescuing someone off a building — it simply has to be a time when your character demonstrates the characteristics of a hero.

Think of one of your real life heroes. What do you admire about this person? Put those heroic qualities in your main character.

My mom is one of my heroes. She’s kind and graceful under pressure. I could write a long list of all the things I admire about her, the fifty plus marathons she’s done, endless campaigning for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, going to college later in life to complete her teaching degree. But I want to focus on one heroic act, which changed my childhood and possibly the course of my entire life. When I was a young kid, even though we were poor and she was a single parent, she sacrificed her time and money so I could be on the town’s swim team, which I loved and which saved me in many ways throughout my childhood and teenage years.

Becoming one of the fastest swimmers in my town gave me confidence to believe I could achieve any goal I set for myself, and the other swimmers became the friends I could always count on. For my mom, it meant driving me to practice twice a day and not being able to afford all kinds of things so that I could have this experience. If I were writing a story about a character like her, I’d show that sacrifice; maybe I’d create a moment in which she has to come up with the hundred dollars for an away swim meet, maybe she returns a birthday present to get the cash, or she sells a special bracelet to the pawn shop, and the kid, oblivious to the sacrifice, goes to the meet.

Now, wherever you are in your book, create a moment of heroism for your character. We’ll fall more in love with your character and we’ll want to keep reading. We’ll be cheering your character on, wishing nothing more than for your character to triumph over all adversity because we’ll know they’re one of the good guys.

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