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Is a Hero Made or Born?

Heroes, heroes, heroes, so often on my mind. Every time I think of a new story idea, it is usually the hero who speaks to me first. Many of us writers use the term "hero" to describe our leading men, but are they heroes because we create them, or were they heroes already and we simply opened our imaginations enough to realize they were waiting to be born into our stories?

Is a hero made or born? What makes any one hero special for a specific story?

I don't know how it works for all writers, but I always feel a tremendous responsibility to create a character who lives up to the hero title. Of course, we want them to be real, to have human flaws and emotions, but there's always that one thing that sets them apart, and in my opinion it's that extra something that separates the heroes from the villains. Sometimes the line is thin and we have to be careful not to cross it.

Some of my earliest heroes come from the Gallagher family. Ethan, Gabriel, and Ramsey have flaws, with stubbornness being at the top. If you asked any one of them, they would not consider themselves heroes. They will do anything for their family, friends, and those who cannot take care of themselves. That's just who they are.

Would any hero do, or did it have to be those three men? Could others have taken their places?

The British Agents are another breed. They, too, would do anything for family, friends, and the downtrodden, but their heroism originally stems from duty, which is then born into love for the women who come into their lives. They wouldn't consider themselves heroes, either. Their women, however, would most definitely call them such.

Another question: Is someone a hero when they are humble enough not to acknowledge it, or does one need to be aware of their heroism?

What about those who stay in the background until chance sees fit to test them. In books 3-6 of the Gallagher series, the heroes were not men born to be front and center. In truth, I'm sure they prefer to stay out of the spotlight, and yet circumstances brings them forward to fight "battles" only they can fight and save people only they can save.

Is there a hero in us all, and some of us have yet to realize it?

I do not speak of super heroes who wear masks and fly through the sky. I speak of the unsung and everyday heroes who see a wrong in the world in and set out to make it right. Some might go forth grudgingly while others swoop into the fray without thought to themselves. These are my favorite heroes. They are the heroes I love to read about in books, see in movies, or hear about in the news.

Heroes who make a difference.

Is a hero made or born? How long does it take for the hero to emerge? I believe writers have a duty to create more than a hero who can make a woman swoon or sweep her off her feet while fighting off the bad guys. That stuff is pretty cool, so we want it, but a hero should represent more. With all of his human flaws and emotions, there still must be a moment when an ordinary man (or woman) becomes a hero. To one person or many, I hope we can each claim to know a hero of great courage. Perhaps, one day, we will see such a person in ourselves.

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Award-winning author MK McClintock writes historical romantic fiction about courageous and honorable men and strong women who appreciate chivalry, like those in her Montana Gallagher, British Agent, and Crooked Creek series. She enjoys a quiet life in the northern Rocky Mountains. 

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