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Saturday, January 03, 2015

Three Hero Essentials

Writers get story ideas from all kinds of crazy places. Snippets of overheard conversations. A phrase from a fortune cookie. The back of a milk carton.

What attracted my interest as an author recently was an old London newspaper advertisement from the late 1700’s. It encouraged the public to send a note to Bow Street as soon as any serious crime occurred so that “a set of brave fellows could immediately be dispatched in pursuit of the villains.”

I wondered about those “brave fellows” and what kind of villains they might come up against, and thus was born Nicholas Brentwood—a hero who’s a little rough around the edges, colorful as a Dickens character, and observant enough to be a forerunner of Sherlock. Shameless plug: check out BRENTWOOD’S WARD for more of Nicholas Brentwood.

The thing about heroes, though, is that most are too good to be true. The best are unpredictable, someone who’s not necessarily safe to be around but always has his loved one’s interests at heart—a man who will put his head on the chopping block to save them if need be. But that’s just one aspect of a great hero. Here are a few others . . .

Perfect characters make readers want to punch them in the head. Nobody is flawless, so make sure your super stud isn’t either. This can be something as small as an inability to balance a checkbook, or maybe it’s a fear. Indiana Jones was afraid of snakes but that didn’t make him any less heroic.

Yo, buddy. Step a little closer. I’ve got a juicy secret to tell you. Are you leaning toward the screen? That’s because you want to know what I’ve got hidden. Secrets are like big, plump nightcrawlers wriggling on a hook, irresistible to literary fish. Heroes with a secret reel in a reader.

Everybody wants something. A brand-spanking-new Tesla. A mutton lettuce tomato sandwich. The stupid hangnail on your thumb to go away. Your hero wants something as well, or at least he should. Make that clear to your reader.

Incorporate these traits into the crafting of your next hero and you’ll have readers begging for more.

See if you can match wits with my recent hero—an experienced lawman—as he tracks down a dangerous criminal in BRENTWOOD’S WARD.

There’s none better than NICHOLAS BRENTWOOD at catching the felons who ravage London’s streets, and there’s nothing he loves more than seeing justice carried out—but this time he’s met his match. Beautiful and beguiling EMILY PAYNE is more treacherous than a city full of miscreants and thugs, for she’s a thief of the highest order…she’s stolen his heart.

Available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine booksellers.

About the Author

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager.

She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones.

Follow her adventures at her blog WRITER OFF THE LEASH or visit, and don’t forget the usual haunts of Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter.


  1. Michelle, you're so right about flawless heroes. Can't stand them. I'm hearing too much about your book, Brentwood's Ward, to resist. Looking forward to the read. Thanks.

    1. Thanks Janice! Enjoy your visit to the past.

  2. Love this and let me just say this story has an INCREDIBLE hook! Nicholas Brentwood sounds interesting!


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