As promised a few posts ago, I’d write something up on character development. This is the first in a seven-part series on developing your characters. 🙂
Today, we’ll just focus on a character’s journey and progression as the hero, but if you want to check out a post on ideals, vices, virtues, etc., click here.
It’s essentially the way your hero matures and grows throughout the novel. It’s essential to the story. Every good book begins with one person and ends with another.
Every single one of us grows a little with every mistake, experience, and action. Fiction reflects that. So it’s essential to have your hero grow throughout the novel. We need to see a bit of ourselves in every character in order to fall in love with them. We need to see that we can grow to be better and we do through characters that develop. 🙂
And anyone who knows me knows that I love Batman. There’s a reason behind that too. Below, we’ll examine how Batman/Bruce Wayne started out and see how and why he changed into what he is known for: being awesome. Oh, and fighting crime effectively, being a hero, etc. 😉
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN BATMAN BEGINS (at least!), GO WATCH IT, THEN COME BACK. Or not. Whichever.
Bruce Wayne started out as a rich little boy. He had a friend, a wonderful family, and a British butler. He had a fear of bats, due to an incident you’d know about if you watched the film, and never would have needed to worry about his future until both his parents got shot by a desperate man outside the opera house.
That day, he learned that there were bad people in the world. He wanted to fight them. He wanted justice — or so he thought.
During a conversation with his friend Rachel, he realized that the grudge he’d carried against that man who murdered his parents had been allowed to grow into a thirst for revenge, not justice.
Several different factors led to Bruce becoming Batman. The whole film, Batman Begins, is about that transformation. So, what can we learn from Batman and what changed him?
1) He’s not perfect. We see this when he messes up, picks fights. We see this when the camera drops to a gun in his hand at the trial of the man who murdered his parents. But he doesn’t let his imperfections define him. He overcomes them.
2) His friend and trainer ended up being involved in an organization that required murder as a sort of initiation action. Bruce refused to do that and lost his “friend(s).” He lost a lot all over again and went back home. But he took the lessons he learned and applied them to the life he wanted to live.
3) He made mistakes as he learned how to be Batman. He figured out what worked and didn’t work.
4) Don’t forget the fact that he was orphaned. 😛 We got see how his life was before, to how it changed for the worse, then for the better. We sympathized with Bruce. No one wants to see a child witness the murder of their parents left to stand crying for help in an ally at night. We were filled with righteous anger at his plight. From the start, we had something to care about.
All of this led to creating a man who went from being a broken, scared, and vengeful man to a hero (though misunderstood sometimes) who sought justice and goodness selflessly.
THIS is the journey your hero should take. They need to go from some lower state of being to a higher state by the end of the book. They need to learn lessons, fail, and learn some more. Teach the reader through the hero.
I think the fact that we can identify with Batman is one reason why so many love him. Superman stinks. He’s perfect. He doesn’t really make mistakes. He saves the world. What do we have to root for? Not much. Unless the villain is worse than the hero, in movies like that, I’m voting for the bad guy! We can’t really relate to Superman. He’s entertaining. That’s it.
There should be flaws. There should be failures. There should be lessons learned.
I think that’s it. I’m sitting here, knowing I left out a lot, but unable to think of it all.
The following posts will include: