One of the most important aspects of a good story is the hero. Without a main character to follow and cheer for, it is difficult to connect with the story. We need to see someone embroiled in the midst of conflict and will them on toward victory. It’s a simple drive but also a powerful one.
This is partially why I’m drawn to fantasy as a genre. It allows, no it demands, epic heroes. These heroes usually find themselves up against tremendous odds and we hold our breath as we pour through the pages of a story to find whether they prevailed or not. But why?
It seems to me that we are drawn to this type of story telling because in our own lives, even in 21 century America, we have similar struggles. Maybe it isn’t about King John taxing people to death, but maybe the mortgage is difficult to pay. Maybe it isn’t about Sauron trying to rule them all with the one ring, but perhaps your ex is trying to ruin you. And maybe there are no real ogres in your world, but your boss is a huge jerk and is making your life very difficult. We all have monsters in our world, and injustice is still common and our own struggle to prosper is real. So we champion heroes because often times we need one in our own lives or we want to be a hero in our own story.
This is a common phrase I’ve heard lately. “You are the hero of your own story.” If that’s true then just like heroes in other stories, we’re flawed and we fail. We are often brought down by the weight of our circumstances and the consequences of our own poor decision making. Those are not always small things mind you. Few things seem to derail me more than fear of my own failure. But like our heroes, we have to push that fear aside and strive for victory. Only then can we hold our heads up high and fist to the sky and declare that we overcame the evil that blocked our path to joy, happiness and prosperity.
Be a hero.