Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

IWSG: On Writing Heroes

Here he comes to save the day!

I never thought about whose perspective to write from. Nearly all my stories are about survival against impossible odds, the heroine or hero 'leaping tall buildings at a single bound,' fighting against and through limitations and/or challenges brought about by economic shifts, class, gender, and pure evil.

Happiness can be an illusion. I know this far too well, despite decades of a happy marriage. For I trust those happy-for-now endings; life itself is never static, presenting each of us unexpected plot twists.

In the 1950's, that oh-so-handsome Prince Charming was expected to carry a working class girl off to a castle somewhere. The shoe fit, for I grew up in a physically abusive, blue collar family, where chaos could and did erupt on any weekend.

My mother's motto, "Don't let the bastards grind you down," taught me to fight back. And, I did. Despite reams of social studies that say each generation walks the same path, one of my sisters and I escaped, got educations, and built, brick by slow brick, positive relationships and rewarding careers.

The biggest writing challenge? Writing male characters -- protagonists or antagonists -- who are not abusive in overt or subtle ways, for our stories work on so many different levels.

Someone once said that each writer writes the same story over and over again, like striking a single note on a bell. But I believe just as we learn craft with each revision, we also can gain insight into not only how we write but what we write about, including the deepest themes that shape our work.

And that's what brings me back to the process of writing itself, a kind of anchor that lets me dream past my childhood and shape my own destiny, inventing worlds where my heroines and heroes really do achieve that happy-ever-after ending.

May your own writing -- and all else -- go well!

With special thanks to readers and writing friends far and near, online or not,
who encourage each of us -- including the awesome co-hosts for the March 6 posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG): Fundy Blue, Beverly Stowe McClure, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard!

IWSG's March 6 question: Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?

(Source: Meme)


  1. Great post, Beth. We can't - and I think shouldn't - avoid putting pieces of ourselves, our life experiences, into our writing. Sometimes it's hard to do - one feels one is exposing raw nerve ends that have been influenced by past experiences, especially bad ones.

    1. So good to hear from you, Karen. Thanks for your encouraging comments.

  2. PS - Didn't answer the IWSG question. I find the protagonist easier to write - I can make his/her life better than mine was. Although, in my first book, it was fun turning my first husband into a villain and having Min's Husky kill him by pushing him off a mountain.

    1. Your comment made me laugh out loud AND want to read that first book. Isn't it pretty amazing that no matter where the beginnings of a character come from, that protag/antag becomes almost a 'real' person!

  3. Hi
    My biggest challenge at this moment is writing my female protagonist. I don't have that many problems with the male protagonist but I stumble at time on writing the female.
    Wishing you all the best.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

    1. Hello, Pat. Your comment reminded me of how difficult it felt for me to write a male protag because I grew up in a family of females. Finally, I just wrote! Writer's groups helped me immensely -- also researching the male psyche. Thank YOU for stopping by.

  4. Writing in a male perspective is also a challenge for me. I think we write best when we write what we know. But research, reading in other perspectives and watching shows geared toward the voice we want really helps me. Happy IWSG Day :)

  5. Exactly, Erika. One word at a time. Being a writer involves much work, but like any project with multiple layers, is satisfying. I never thought of watching shows to 'see' anew what might work better in my writing. Thank you for stopping by.

  6. I don't agree with the "Each writer writes the same story over and over again" statement either, especially when it comes to non-fiction or memoir. We are all unique as writers, as living beings. But, I guess most (fiction) writers stick to a format that works/sells, and the statement must have to do with that. Happy writing, Beth!