Nothing irritates me more than when and I get about 100 pages into a novel and realize I literally hate the hero. It happens, and I’ve seen it happen dozens of times. The author will start off great, pull me right in, have me hooked, and then BAMM!!! Everything changes and the main protagonist does something that just leaves me laughing. So, today I made a list of the things that make me HATE a HERO… Now understand- In all cases there are exceptions to these rules. John McClane and Jack Bauer break just about every rule- But hey, I’m a guy and they are special.
THEY ARE NEVER TESTED-
One of the things that drive me crazy about a hero is that they are never truly tested. To many times I read something where the hero gets into a pretty ugly situation and finds his way out to easy. Getting chased, or into fight, even getting shot is not being tested. I want to see him put through the ringer. I want to see him pushed emotionally and have his way of life just completely stomped out.
I hate unlikeable characters. I get it, he’s a tough dude. He’s got an edge. He wants to come off as a jerk. That’s fine. But give him a quality that makes me care about why I’m reading his story. If there isn’t anything to like about him within the first fifty pages, wait, the first twenty pages I’m not going to bother going on.
TO MUCH PAST–
Boo hoo, he had a bad childhood. Heck, I had a bad childhood. But I don’t sit around and whine about it all day long. In fact, I don’t even talk about it. I don’t flash back to those bad nights when mommy and daddy were fighting in the living room (Oops, I just did). Having a bad life or past is relevant. But having pages upon pages of revisiting what happened is just annoying. Say it, wrap it up, and move on…
Wait! Did I just say that? A deeply religious person. That’s right. Nothing is more cheap then a Hero being motivated by his faith, philosophies, or political ideas. Unless it’s post-apocalyptic or Mr. Smith Goes to Washington I really don’t want to hear it. Those are parts of a characters life that may motivate him, yes, but I need to know what else is driving him. There has to be a little more to him otherwise he’s just an image on a page with no layer. Remember Shrek? “Give me layers.”
THEY ARE A CLONE-
Is it James Bond, Indiana Jones, Han Solo, STOP IT!!! Don’t give me a clone copy of someone else. If you come to me and your pitch is – It’s Han Solo in an Amish Zombie book I’m going to laugh. (Wait! That would be pretty cool) My point is- Don’t just clone your hero. Sure those are great characters, and you can use them as a foundation to build your own, but go further… Add something, develop them more…
Now- I’ll admit it. I’m not an expert on writing. No one really is. But I am a reader, and take my advice or leave it. Doesn’t bother me one bit. At the end of the day these are the things that annoy me. That’s all…
Happy Writing everyone, and happy reading.