Where YOU Can Find The Perfect Hero

My sixteen-year-old daughter works at the animal shelter, walking dogs and petting cats, bringing adoptable dogs to local places for public relations, and bathing the ones that have recently healed from an illness. I go along and walk the healthy dogs.

At first, I was afraid I’d want to rescue every animal. And then I worried I wouldn’t be able to keep my anger in check after witnessing jerky people ditching their neglected animals. I wanted to deck every single one of those imbeciles!

When some dogs met us they crouched and shied away. Others wet the ground and trembled. But some came to us with loving kisses, (bad breath and all) eager for any sign of our affection–despite their wounds.

As I plotted my current YA novel, some of what I experienced at the shelter naturally came out–the passion for animals, the desire to save them all, and the loathing for those who harm them. My perfect hero HAD to be someone who had all these traits. But she had to have more, too. Since I was writing fiction, I decided Willow, my main character, would have the ability to SAVE them. HEAL them. Thus, my WILLOW series was born. Willow, a compassionate girl, has the ability to heal abused and injured animals with the power of her fingertips.

When you’re planning your next novel where do YOU find the perfect hero?

Look in the mirror and ask yourself:

1. Who are you?

2. What do you feel passionate about?

3. What matters to you?

4. What do you value?

Chances are if you care about something, others will, too. Give your protagonist that same passion. Make her a loyal, selfless, focused, and determined individual with a goal. And put obstacles in her way of reaching that goal. Have her learn something along the way and poof, you’ve got yourself a great story. (But don’t forget to give her a flaw, too.)

My WILLOW series hasn’t been published yet, but some day I know it will be. How do I know?

First, let me tell you that I don’t consider myself a cocky person. I DO NOT know everything there is to know about writing novels. But, what I do know, is I’ve been studying it for ten years. TEN YEARS. AND I work full time at improving the craft. AND I’m passionate about it.

When we write what we’re passionate about, our writing is better. Much better.

YOUR GOAL:  Is obviously to get your story published, but if you focus on writing a good story–something you’re passionate about–and not on who will like it or who won’t, just really concentrate on telling an excellent story, using all the necessary TOOLS, and showing the scenes so the writing disappears and the reader keeps turning the pages to see the story, readers will love it.

So, how do I know my series will be published? Because:

1. I feel passion for my story and my characters

2. I’m focused on telling the story and not worrying about if readers will or will not like it

3. I’m studying the craft and using the necessary TOOLS like showing and not telling, creating suspense and making the reader care

4. I know who my characters are and have given them a voice of their own

YOUR CHALLENGE:  Look at what matters to you, and you’ll find your hero. That’s where your writing will shine.

Jim Denney has an excellent post on this, too.

What are you writing that others might care about? 

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  1. Very nice. It makes me want to read your Willow series as soon as it’s in print.

  2. Robin says:

    This is wonderful advice. Passion is essential to writing and when you can tie it into your main character, all the better.

    Your story about the shelter reminds me of my uncle. My father has six siblings, and my Uncle Ken worked at a veterinarian clinic and animal shelter when he was a kid. When there were animals that nobody wanted or that were extra sick, he would bring them home to take care of them. (Now he’s a doctor, so I think that must have stayed with him.)

    My grandmother has hilarious stories (to me, not to her), about the caiman that lived in their basement (until they sent it to the zoo) and would escape while she was doing the laundry and other animals he brought home. A couple of years ago, he and his girlfriend rescued five or six raccoon cubs and bottle fed them.

    I think that kind of passion – and compassion – makes and keeps readers interested.

    • Hi Robin! Thanks for commenting and I love your grandmother’s stories. When we can write about something we’re passionate about it doesn’t feel like work. At. All.
      And it’s okay that you sent this response twice. It makes me feel like I’m getting lots of mail.

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