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Heroes, Victims, Survivors, Villains
Do you understand the definitions of hero, victim, survivor, and villain? When writing fiction, one needs to be aware of exactly what the definitions of these words are.
Who is a hero? According to the dictionary, a hero is a man or woman of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his or her brave deeds and noble qualities. A hero is one who overcomes obstacles to save the life of someone else or to make the life of someone else better.
Many of the superheroes portrayed in comic books show what the characteristics of a hero should be. No, I donít mean that a hero needs to have super powers or wear a crazy costume. A hero needs to have consistent morals and not use deception to reach his goals. A hero will take responsibility for what he does, even if his actions were wrong. He will cherish those things in life that are valuable to him and take extreme measures to protect them.
A modern day example of those who committed heroic acts would be the people who rescued the 33 miners trapped deep in a collapsed mine in Chile. The trapped miners, while I am sure they are brave individuals, are not heroes; they were victims who became survivors. The ones who rescued them would be the heroes.
A teacher (music teacher, dance teacher, school teacher, etc.) with a love for teaching could be considered a hero if a more lucrative career or opportunity was passed up so that he or she could continue to teach others how to better themselves.
A victim is one who suffers physical or mental harm from some sort of accident (car wreck, fall down the stairs, etc.) or by the intended actions of another person (being talked about by another person, being shot, stabbed, raped, etc.). Pick up just about any newspaper and there will story after story about victims of different crimes.
Anne Frank is a famous victim of the Holocaust. At least 50 women became the victims of the serial killer Ted Bundy in the 1970s. When captured, Ted Bundy rightfully became the victim of the electric chair.
A survivor is simply one who survives despite terrible accidents, such as a mine collapsing on top of him or a car wreck. Other people may try to destroy his or her life; everything in life may seem to work against him or her staying alive, yet this person continues to live.
Otto Frank, Anne Frankís father, is a famous survivor of the Holocaust. I was the victim of a potentially fatal car wreck, but Iím now a survivor. My daughter, once the victim of an abusive husband, is now a survivor.
A villain is a person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime. Through their deeds, villains create victims who need to be rescued by heroes so they, the victims, can become survivors.
Adolf Hitler is a famous villain that has probably been heard of by everyone. Jack the Ripper, a well-known and feared villain during the 1880s, killed many prostitutes in London, England. Any man who physically and/or mentally abuses his wife would be considered a villain.
The crime does not have to be gory or bloody, as were the crimes of the above examples. Your villainís wickedness or crime could be extortion, bribery, or telling lies.
When writing, make it clear which of your characters is the hero, which one is the victim, which one is the survivor, and which one is the villain. Throughout your story, it may be your intention to keep your readers guessing the specific role each character has, but by the end of the story their parts need to be clear. If you have trouble telling them apart, then so will your readers.
Content copyright © 2013 by Lisa Binion. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Lisa Binion. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Lisa Binion for details.
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