My daughter recently wrote this in an e-mail to her teen writing club:
I think the most lovable characters, or at least the ones I love the
most, are those that are defiantly cheerful.
The ones who've had really hard lives, like REALLY hard lives. But
they turn around and laugh in life's face anyway, even though it
hurts, even though everything they've been through has left them
scarred in so many ways. I can think of several off the top of my head
and I'm going to rant about them.
As I read through her list of defiantly cheerful characters I remembered how much I love characters like that. How much I love to write with characters like that. How much I want to be like that. I decided that my New Year's Resolution is to be defiantly cheerful. Within a day, my life seemed 100% better. Nothing had changed except my decision to laugh instead of cry at whatever came my way.
I have a friend in my local "Writing a Book Club" who told me that his parents didn't give him much moral direction as he was growing up. But when his friends started doing drugs or other irresponsible things, he remembered the characters he loved from "The Lord of the Rings." He thought to himself, "Aragorn wouldn't do that." So he didn't do it either.
That's why he wants to be a writer now. He wants to provide the same kind of direction for young people that he found in the characters he loved.
When I was a tween-aged reader I scoured the fiction section of the library, searching for something I desperately needed. I read book after book, hunting, hoping to fill this void in my soul. What was I looking for? I needed a hero. I wanted a young woman I could look up to and emulate. I needed to watch someone like me navigate the troubled waters of adolescence and come out on the other side as a successful young adult.
There are a lot of books out there about people who are less than exemplary. They make selfish choices that cause suffering to themselves and those around them. What I really want is to see someone who makes the right choices no matter what.
Who are your heroes from story? What kind of heroes are you going to give the next generation?