Thriller Workshop – Heroes!

on October 1, 2013

This week and last I’ve been teaching a thriller/romantic suspense workshop online through RWA University. It’s been a lot of fun with great questions and interaction–and about my favorite subject — thrillers and romantic suspense!

I love interactive workshops. To me, the Q&A is the most important, and fun, part of the adventure. I have a basic outline that I’ve taken from other workshops I’ve done on the topic, but wing it as I go along.

Sort of how I write my books 🙂

One of the things I’ve talked about is the importance of having readers connect with characters. The amazing James Rollins gave a workshop at RWA in Anaheim about how to do this, especially if you have a hero who might not be all that heroic at the beginning. (A flawed hero, an everyday hero, etc.) He suggested that your character be kind to animals, children, or the elderly. This is especially important if they’re not-so-nice in general.

This is similar to Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CAT moment (and the title of his book on screenwriting) that says you need to give your character a “save the cat” scene, preferably in the beginning of the movie. “It’s the scene where we meet the hero and the hero does something — like saving the cat — that defines who he is and makes us, the audience, like him.”

So this got me thinking about flawed characters who we love because of who they are and what they do, even though they aren’t perfect. Perfect characters are boring, anyway.

Luke Skywalker is a whiny older teen in the first STAR WARS movie, very typical of the age, he wants to go with his friends, he complains about his chores, but in the end he’s loyal to his aunt and uncle and does what they need. They can’t run the farm without him, and he’s torn, but his loyalty to family and duty shines through.

Spock in the STAR TREK reboot is cold, logical, and seems unemotional and unfeeling, but he loves his mother and will defend her honor even if that means giving over to his anger.

Oliver Stone in the television show ARROW is a complex hero — in many ways an anti-hero — who is violent, he kills bad guys (vigilante), he’s lying to the people he cares about the most (ostensibly to protect them, but it doesn’t always work that way) and is manipulative. But when we learn his motives (his father died to save him) and what happened on the island (the sacrifices others made to ensure his survival) we realize his sense of duty and honor drives him.

John Luther is a cop in the British show LUTHER and in the opening, a suspect falls after he gives John information on where the girl he kidnapped is trapped. Did John do it on purpose? He might have. He doesn’t like child predators. We’s edgy, but driven by a strong sense of justice, that sometimes, he crosses the line to ensure justice is served.

Who’s your favorite flawed hero, or hero who grew the most, and what do you love most about him (or her?)

Now … for the winners of Lena Diaz’s book! ANNE (commenter at 7:47) and DIANE (commenter at 9:44) will get a copy of ASHES, ASHES, THEY ALL FALL DEAD! Whoot! Please email me (Allison!) with your contact information and I’ll forward to Lena. Thanks!

UPDATE: I forgot that I wanted to also share this link for a chance to win 23 thrillers by 24 authors … including my own COLD SNAP coming out October 29. So click on over to “Thrillerpalooza” and check out these AMAZING books!