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  • Writer's pictureTracey Lee

Protagonists and Heroes

In my last blog I reflected on the creation of villains and whether or not these adversarial characters should be unsympathetic, unlovable and unredeemable. Or, should the reader be required to understand the motivation of monstrous behaviour and therefore see some glimmer of hope? I’m still working it out myself.


But what about the protagonists? Are they all heroes? Do they all conqueror the world outside themselves and the one within? Or are small victories against minor tribulations enough to create a hero?


As I’m writing about my character Lily O’Hara and developing her persona for the second book in the series I am critically aware that protagonists are not always heroes: in either the classic or modern sense. Sometimes they are weak and lack the courage to do the right thing. Some lead characters are drawn into atrocious situations in which they may behave cruelly or commit criminal acts themselves. Does this make them more human, more like us? Are we drawn to a flawed character who attempts to be good and fails more than the one who is saintly and always beats the bad guy? What do we want from our heroes?


More questions than answers I’m afraid. And perhaps this is alluding to some of the complications Lily experiences in the second book. She spent the first part of her life absenting herself from life’s complexities and only when driven by necessity and a sense curiosity does she propel herself into an investigative role to overcome doubt and injustice. Not exactly heroic; perhaps self-serving more than anything else. But she does have to serve others in book two.

The world within Lily is still a battleground. She must deal with change and loss; fear and the resurgence of old pain. In addition there is a new arena and there are real ‘monsters’ to be faced; not just the consequences of human frailty.


I am tasked with stealing my character to face these things honourably and courageously. Part of me wants to prevent her from having to face anything else that will hurt her; but a hero cannot be found in the running away from trouble. She can only be revealed in the confrontation and conquering of life’s ills.


All will be revealed in due course!

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