What makes a hero a hero? What makes him or her likeable?
Is it saving threatened damsels? Beating up three bad guys with his bare hands? Fighting government or corporate corruption? Being nice to children and pets? Maybe every reader has their own hot buttons, a list of things they like their heros to be, but The Famous Author and I think we've discovered something.
The key ingredient: Heros take no crap.
Probably not many of you have read NUMBER ONE, a memoir by the late great baseball player and coach, Billy Martin. In his book, popular more than a decade ago, Billy Martin opens with a story about his Italian mother. When a neighbor antagonized Billy as a small boy, Mom walked next door, rang the bell, and when the offending neighbored opened up, Billy's Mom immediately punched him in the nose. "Take no s---," Billy's mom told him.
Billy said it was his biggest lesson in life, and we think it applies in fiction. Heros should never take crap. Why? Because we all do, every day -- from our bosses, our friends, our spouses, even strangers who push and shove and cut in front of us. We HATE that. We want to get even. But alas, society frowns on physical assaults. We suck it up until we get home and watch TV, or get in our chair and read a book. In this new world, where we imagine ourselves in exciting places and with exciting people, we don't have to take crap. We deal it out to the bad guys.
My favorite at this -- the guy who really understands the concept -- is Elmore Leonard. Think of HOMBRE, or better, the opening of GET SHORTY. The bad guy takes our hero's jacket. Does our guy let it go? Hell, no. He marches to the bad guy's house, punches him in the nose, and takes his jacket back.
And we LOVE him for it.
Sorry for the rant. I'm just tired of taking crap. Hey TFA, where's our Elmore Leonard collection?