HOW TO COMPLETE A LATENT HERO
What is it that makes a latent hero my favorite? I mentioned it briefly in the previous post, but to reiterate, a latent hero inspires us to believe that there is a hero within us all, that we are not victims of our circumstances, but that we can rise above them to overcome.
Whenever I see a latent hero picking up her sword, something in me jumps, knowing that she is about to fulfill her destiny. Does it matter that we know she’s going to win the fight? No, it doesn’t. In fact, we want her to win, knowing that she has finally accepted her calling.
Keep this in mind if you are writing about a latent hero. There are elements that reader is looking for, and if you connect the dots well, the story will illuminate before the reader’s eyes.
The last post addressed the hardships of a latent hero, but now let’s look at the triumph.
The latent hero must have something that pulls him out of the dormant state, and this will not just be an event, but it’ll be the revelation of some kind of truth.
Mel Gibson, in The Patriot, is a latent hero who doesn’t want to fight in the American Revolution. He just wants to raise his family. But when his son is killed, and his other son is kidnapped, he realizes that there will be no liberty if he does not fight.
Think about your writing. Is there some unknown truth that the hero must accept? If not, it’ll be hard to fully pull your hero out of hiding.
Your hero has to rise up with a purpose. The trial must be greater than he is and then some.
In keeping with The Patriot, Mel Gibson wrestles with the idea of going to war, and his heart is cut when his oldest son continues fighting. He has just lost one son; he can’t lose another.
He must overcome the fear of having his family torn apart if he is ever going to be triumphant.
That’s a story to work with!
The latent hero must have a back-and-forth. There must be something that tries to pull him back to his old life while his new life is pulling him forward.
The hero must have a moment where he’ll never turn back. The reader will get chills, just as I am right now as I write this, whenever the reader sees that your hero’s resolve cannot be shaken.
In The Patriot, Mel Gibson begins to gain the respect of his oldest son again as he has accepted to fight the war. The militia is forming, and they follow Mel Gibson without any hesitation.
Then the villain (I can’t remember his name – but I absolutely love that guy as a villain), tries to flush the militia out of hiding by killing the families of the militiamen. In one scene, the villain traps the townspeople in a church and burns it to the ground. Among the dead is Mel’s soon-to-be daughter-in-law.
Now, nothing can pull him back. There’s so much at stake as the war is no longer just a distant battle for the good of the revolutionaries. Now it’s personal.
Making the switch personal and believable is essential for good writing. If it’s done well, your latent hero will be cast amongst the hall of fame of literary characters.
Good luck! I hope this helps.