As a writer of fiction, I like to explore different aspects of the literary craft. Sometimes when writing a short story or novel, I’ll try out a different style of writing, some style I’ve not attempted before. And sometimes I’ll try a different type of protagonist, usually a hero, someone I’ve not tried before and hopefully someone different than I’ve written before.
In all fairness, each writer comes to the blank page with their own beliefs, prejudices and habits, both good and bad. It’s not always so easy to come up with something different, something fresh, but still we try. Or at least I do. Oh, I’m sure a number of my short stories and novels will ring similar to one another, but then I often make use of worlds and characters from earlier works of mine such as in my KOBALOS TRILOGY, and I’ll admit I do try to keep to one particular style or another when working on a series. Yet still, when I start a new work, I often seek something new to my eyes and hopefully to the reader’s eyes.
Deciding upon what type of hero to utilize within a given story is not always easy. For a fiction writer, sometimes the characters come first, sometimes the worlds within the tale come first, and sometimes the events of the story come first. Finding the right fit for everything can be a task, but when it works it can be exhilarating for the writer and hopefully enjoyable for the readers.
Also, there are different types of heroes. There are the stand-up type of heroes who always do right no matter what. There are the different types of anti-heroes, some bordering on being bad while others are merely inefficient or even foolish. There are heroes who are only heroic for a single moment in their life, and there are others who practically live a life of the heroic. And little of this is really getting into the various aspects of characterization that can make a hero an individual, such as their past, their general demeanor, their beliefs, their gender, race, religion, background, job, etc.
Genre can have a lot to do with the type of hero an author will utilize. Readers familiar with a particular genre will often come to expect certain character types or tropes. Here a fine line must be walked by the writer. To always give the readers what they want or expect can work out well, but it can also become boring, even derivative. Bringing a new type of character to a genre can be fresh and exciting, but it has to be done with care in order not to turn off too many readers. Still, taking chances is often what being an artist is all about.
All that being said, a writer can grow bored with their own work if they’re simply churning out the same types of characters over and over again. From a financial point of view it often makes sense for an author to continue writing similar works as readers tend to flock to series and to authors who provide familiar territory. Yet as an artist, one’s work can become stale if writing the same material over and over again. Some writers are fortunate enough in that they can always bring something new to the table while still producing familiar works, but other writers struggle with this, and I have to admit that sometimes I’m one of those who struggles. Some authors will work in multiple genres to help keep their works from becoming dull to themselves, and I’ve found this helps somewhat.
As I’m wrapping this up, I’ll suggest to my fellow writers that if they ever feel like their writing is becoming stale that they should try something different, something new. Try another genre or perhaps a different type of writing. Try your hand at non-fiction, at screenplays, at poetry, at whatever comes to mind. Try your hand at some writing exercises, plenty of which can be found at different sites online. If you normally write in third person, try your hand at first person, or maybe even at the awkward second person. None of this has to be seen by anyone else, so don’t allow the opinions of others to matter at this point. The idea is to keep writing, to keep thinking, to keep coming up with different heroes.