Thursday, September 20, 2012
Contributing Author Tiffany Reisz: Han Versus Luke – Who’s the Better Hero?
I'm delighted to announce a new column for the blog: Contributing Authors. This column will continue to develop over the next few months, but the goal is to bring a regular guest author to the blog every Thursday. Four authors, four Thursdays (for those rare fifth Thursdays I'll have to find a wildcard post or maybe do a critique contest or something fun). I have two contributors lined up so far. One for fiction and one for poetry, and my plan is to fill the last two spots with an agent, editor, and/or marketing person to get some inside tips on the business side of fiction.
Kicking off the column is the always informative and fun Tiffany Reisz, and you'll see posts from her every third Thursday (don't worry, I'll have a schedule if you forget).
Take it away Tiffany...
As a kid, I was a STAR WARS nerd. As an adult, I still am. My love of STAR WARS has changed and grown up as I’ve changed and grown up. At age eleven, I adored Luke Skywalker. When he stood on the edge of a Dune and stared into the twin sunsets, my young heart trapped in Western Kentucky felt his longing for adventure. Han Solo seemed okay but he didn’t speak to me. Still very much a child, I had a child’s desires to just get out of the house and go magical places.
But now I’m a grown-up and while I still think Luke’s a darn nice guy, I see the real truth about STAR WARS. Luke was never the hero. It was Han Solo all along.
Why do I say this? Because I’m a fiction writer and I now know what to look for in a hero. And when I look for a hero in STAR WARS, I find Han.
Don’t believe me? Let’s put them to the test. Luke versus Han in a battle of the heroes. And as we compare them, let’s think about he heroes in our own books. Are they Lukes—flat heroes? Or are they Hans—dynamic heroes?
A dynamic hero has attitude.
Think about your favorite heroes in movies. They have attitude, right? Often BAD attitude. Grumbling, barefoot Bruce Willis in Die Hard. Suave James Bond. Feisty, fearless foul-mouthed Erin Brockovich. And of course, self-centered and cocky Han Solo. Whereas Luke Skywalker in STAR WARS is, well, just kind of whiny.
A dynamic hero is funny.
Humor is an author’s best tool for creating affection for a character. You can pile on all the angst and damage and drama you want onto the head of a fictional hero but he or she won’t really capture the heart of a reader until they can make ‘em laugh.
Villains get good lines. The heroes get the great lines.
I say “Han Solo” online and people throw quotes at me left and right. It’s almost a race to see who says, “You need more scoundrels in your life” first. I bet in the last month you’ve run across a Han Solo quote or reference. “We don’t have time to discuss this in a committee!” or “Never tell me the odds!”
When’s the last time you quoted Luke Skywalker? Yeah, thought so.
A dynamic hero changes from un-heroic to heroic.
Here’s the main problem with Luke Skywalker as a hero. He’s a hero on page one. From the very start of the STAR WARS saga, he’s brave and kind and willing to rescue Princess Leia without even stopping to think about how he’s going to do it. But Han? He’s a mess. He’s greedy, self-centered, cocky, and only agrees to help rescue the Princess because he knows he’s going to get paid for it. Soon as he can get the money and run, he gets the money and runs. So when he shows up at the end and makes blasts the tie fighters off Luke who is now safe to blow up the Death Star, it means something. The Luke of the first scene of STAR WARS: A New Hope is the same Luke in the last scene—he’s done nothing but moved to a new planet and changed his clothes. But Han, he’s truly grown as a person. He’s not a loner in it for himself anymore.
He’s a hero.
So when it’s time to populate your novel with a hero or two, ask yourself who you’d rather hang out with in a cantina—Luke Skywalker or Han Solo? Personally, I’d go with Han Solo for anything.
After all, he did make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.
Tiffany Reisz's books inhabit a world where romance, erotica and literature meet and do immoral and possibly illegal things to each other. She describes her genre as "literary friction," a term she stole from her main character, who gets in trouble almost as often as the author herself. Reisz's debut novel, The Siren, was published by Mira on July 24, 2012. Reisz describes it as "not your momma's Thorn Birds." Reisz lives in Lexington, KY.