The Making of a Hero
Updated: Apr 3, 2021
Superheroes, am I right?
Whether you like them or not, they've been a massive part of entertainment for decades, and an inspiration to people all over the world.
Personally, I love them. I may not be a devoted fan to all the comics ever written, or every MCU movie brought to the big screens, but there's just something about superheroes that has always drawn me in. Whether they have powers, or not, they've got the drive, the constitution, to put other people above themselves; to risk their own life to save that of a complete stranger, and I think there's a lot we can take away from a character like that.
What's more, they're a great trope to explore in writing!
However; as I discovered, there's a huge difference between reading about a hero, and writing your own. I'm in no way claiming to be an expert on the matter, but for anyone interested, I'm going to share my own experiences with designing a superhero character, and I hope it'll help you out with your own future projects!
1. Remember that heroes are people too
First of all, I found it was helpful to ignore the fact that I was going to be writing about a hero, and remember that heroes are people too. The best kind of superhero, after all, is the one with something deep and human residing behind the mask we all see. So when you start designing your character, put the person first. Find out (or make up) what makes them them; their looks, their personality, their history. Quirks and dispositions. Loves and hates. Make a person, first, and then turn them into a hero.
2. Give them a metaphorical cape
Now comes the fun part. Take your character (they may not be fully polished yet, but that's okay, you can build them up as you write your story) and give them a metaphorical cape. I say metaphorical because sometimes heroes don't wear capes. Sometimes they wear metal armour, or a pair of jeans. Sometimes they're just an ordinary person doing extraordinary things, and there's nothing to say you need a cape in order to do this. Find out what your character's 'cape' is; what makes them a hero. Did they wake up spontaneously with powers? Were they born with a special ability that they're only just now learning to use for the greater good? Did they come from a long line of heroes and feel pressured to join the ranks? A good hero should have a drive for being heroic, and a means or a skill set (even if it isn't even super) to carry out their heroic deeds.
3. The kind of world your character lives in
Last of all, a hero's not going to much good floating in the infinite space of your imagination. They need something tangible to call home. I know this is kind of breaking out of the 'make a character' theme and diving straight into 'worldbuilding' but the kind of world your character lives in can really define what type of hero they're going to be. Maybe heroes are worshipped in your world, and there's a special academy for which they go to train. Maybe people with powers are frowned upon, and they have to save the day in secret. Maybe your world is ordinarily un-super, and no one even knows about the existence of your hero, or their powers/skills. If your hero is going to be a 3D, realistic character, then, like any 3D realistic character, they're going to have to interact with the world around them (including other people) in a way that makes realistic sense. This can really help transform your character from a group of flat words on a flat page, to a movie-like hallucination playing out in your reader's heads (don't you love it when that happens?).
Anyway, that's all for now, and I hope these writing tips can help out anyone trying their hand at writing a superhero.