Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Real Talk About Heroes

The theme for this month is heroes. It’s a topic I have already thought about in writing. Writing a good hero in YA fiction is challenging. It’s important for characters to feel real and be complex even if they aren’t actually real. However, writers also have to ask themselves how strict of a moral code a hero has. Some writers might be comfortable with having their hero always being a perfect citizen while other writers might have their hero be morally ambiguous. But the most important thing for a hero is a happy ending. Because there’s nothing worse than the audience being cheated.

Sure. Life might not always be fair. But there’s no law that says pop culture must be realistic. This is a television example, but I’ll write about it anyway. YA writers can still learn from it. One example of a hero from television is Stefan Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries. The show fell flat with its series finale. Stefan sacrifices himself so his brother Damon Salvatore can get a happily ever after with Elena Gilbert. The Vampire Diaries ultimately gets it wrong. Stefan should have gotten the happy ending; not Damon. People talk about villains needing to be complex and not caricatures. Well, it’s the same for heroes. They should be able to make mistakes without losing their hero status. That’s why it baffles me when fans complain about Stefan’s flaws, but ignore Damon’s flaws to prop up the misogynistic and toxic ship Delena. Stefan even props up Delena by saying Damon is the better/right man when having his goodbye with Elena. The point is, there’s an implicit promise to viewers. Stefan is the good brother and Damon is the bad brother, and the show did not deliver. And that’s one mistake I’ll never make in my writing. The bad boy trope ceases to be impressive if the bad boy keeps acting like a jerk over and over again-like Damon-without learning anything from the behavior.

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