Friday, October 25, 2013

What exactly does “larger-than-life” mean when applied to the stories we write?

To answer this question, I went online and looked up the definition of larger-than-life, and here is what I found: Greater, grander, etc. than most others of its kind (YourDictionary.com); Of greater size or magnitude than is naturally or normally the case (allwords.com); of the sort legends are made of (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary); very imposing or impressive; surpassing the ordinary (especially in size or scale); "an epic voyage"; "of heroic proportions"; "heroic sculpture" (wordnet-online.com). 

Notice the recurring use of the adjective heroic. Interesting. We write about heroes and heroines, don’t we? Then I looked up epic: a long narrative poem telling of a hero's deeds (wordnet-online.com). Whoa. That got the old brain churning. We write about heroes’ and heroines’ journeys of growth and discovery in life, romance and love. 

So what does “larger-than-life” really mean in regards to our stories? 

Well, it doesn’t mean our heroines have to be Wonder Woman or Super Mom, and our heroes don’t have to be Spiderman or as rich as Bill Gates. At least they don’t unless our stories require them to be. 

I once attended a workshop where the instructor put it like this: Larger-than-life means that our characters do things we’re not brave enough to do in real life, and they say things we would never have the courage to say. 

Readers want to identify with the characters they read about, but they want more. They want the heroes and heroines to be bolder and more daring than they are themselves; they want them to be fearless and to stand up to the villains of the world. 

It’s as simple as that. 

Happy Writing!!!

Anne Marie  :)