When I’m reading, I often classify heroes into one of two camps: special by birth or special by action.
The special by birth folks often have super-human powers, unnatural talents, and/or live at the centers of prophecies. This group has many famous members: Harry Potter, Buffy (the Vampire Slayer), Bella (Twilight), Superman, Aragorn (LotR), Katsa (Graceling), Harry (The Blue Sword), Garion (The Belgariad), Luke Skywalker, almost all comic book mutants, long-lost princesses, etc.
Just by being born, these folks are ahead of the game. They didn’t do anything to be long-lost heir to Gondor, the Chosen One, the Last Son, the only one who can withstand Voldemort. Most of them are pretty awesome people, but without the special circumstances of their birth/genetics/cosmic alignment, they’d probably be supporting characters.
The special by action folks may have interesting upbringings and the opportunities to become awesome, but mostly, they’ve attained their hero status by working hard, doing interesting things, making good (or bad) decisions, or generally just stumbling through life. Some impressive people live here, too: Willow (BtVS), Katniss (The Hunger Games), Batman, Frodo and Samwise, Starbuck (in my version), Turtle (The Westing Game), Lisbeth Salander, the Mission: Impossible team, Indiana Jones, etc.
You could argue that these folks are also special by birth — some of them have pretty awesome parents and/or a whole lot of privilege — but in general, their skills still fall within human (or hobbit) norms.
As a kid, I vastly preferred the special by birth heroes, because I secretly wanted to be The Chosen One, the one person who could make a difference, who could save the world, who was undeniably special. (Yes, I tried to manifest my mutant powers, use the force, and look for signs that I’d been adopted under strange circumstances. Didn’t we all?)
As an adult, I find I vastly prefer special by action heroes, the ones that don’t owe their specialness to an accident of birth. I think it’s because I want to live in a world where hard work and character (in the general sense) are more important than genetics, lineage, or something like Mystic Heritage. I know it’s naive, and probably a product of my upbringing, and that most people in our world struggle just to survive — but still. That’s the world I want.
Oh, I still love stories of all kinds — even the ones with princes and superpowers and ancient prophecies. But the stories that speak to me most strongly, the kinds of stories that I want to write, are the ones where the heroes make themselves.
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