Friday, February 5, 2016

Reflections on the Iconic Hero Story

Following on a previous post, it's time to expand on Robin Laws' Iconic Hero a bit.

Iconic Heroes not only have a Core Ethos, but that Ethos is also the fundamental story structure one can expect when you read one of those stories. When you got a ticket for SPECTRE, you knew damn well that you weren't going to watch Bond do a manners comedy routine. You were there to see the hottest girls, one of the hottest men, serious spy drama and action, and world-spanning adventures in exotic locations. Just as you're a fucking retard to ignore the Iconic Hero as a reliable way to get paid, you're also a retard if you poo-poo the Iconic Story that routinely goes along with them. Let's bring this back to my Iconic Hero, Ken, and his Core Ethos: Ken kills monsters preying upon Mankind to purify a corrupt world.

This, played straight and literal, makes his core story that of a monster hunter. Yet there is a flexibility here that I'm using to inform Ken's overall development in his iconic stature. As I noted previously, the big break is the Cataclysm; beforehand, Ken's an increasingly disaffected vigilante sort whose story would remind you of the Deathwish series and afterwards it becomes a monster-on-monster story that blends my love of Howard's barbarian heroes with Vampire Hunter D. There are influences from the Westerns in Ken's iconic story structure, as one would expect from a man like me, but in essence it is this simple- and simple is flexible:
  • Ken encounters a monster attack.
  • Ken attempts to tell the local authorities so they can do their jobs.
  • Ken finds that the authorities are unwilling or unable to do their jobs.
  • Ken finds out why the authorities are useless, or worse.
  • Ken can't walk away from the situation, so he does the job himself.
  • Ken leaves having killed the monster, but also unable to stay.
  • Ken moves on.
This is the value of the iconic story; once you have the Ethos, you have the plot and you can then build out your story beats and other narrative structure elements from there. It takes a hell of a lot of worry off your shoulders, and you can then turn that energy towards improving your skill at executing the writing of the story. Just like how the music world as their standards, so does the fiction world have its iconics; appreciate them, especially if you're like me and just getting started, for the benefits that they bring and use them to allow you to focus on honing those basics of the craft.

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