Guest Post: Chosen for Greatness

Whoowee! I can relax in this here comfy chair, since Charles Yallowitz is guest posting today. Please take it away, Charles, while I have something cool to drink and put my feet up.

Comfy Chair

Thank you to L. Marie for helping to promote the first book of my fantasy series, Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero. It’s been out since 2013, but I’ve made it permanently free to help get people into the series. All of that is beside the point since I’m here to talk about the Chosen One trope. You know that character destined to destroy an evil villain and has everything handed to him? Well, that’s the lazy way to do it. Let me explain how I did it and use poor Luke Callindor as an example. He’s the half-elven warrior you see on the cover and he’s not nearly as shiny these days.

Authors who use the Chosen One template have to be careful and avoid the trap that has people hating this thing. That trap is having the hero destined to DEFEAT the obstacle. For example, Harry Potter was destined to defeat Voldemort. There is no ambiguity there. His path is to win the fight no matter what. Chosen Ones of this school worked way back when, because people didn’t want their heroes to lose. Times have changed and people don’t always want the victory to be handed to the Chosen One.

double-harry-potter-voldemort-hp7-1600x12001

In Legends of Windemere, six champions have been crafted by the Destiny God to face an ancient evil. Not win, but merely face the villain. The god admits that he can only lead them to the final battle and the victory is entirely in their hands. There isn’t even a promise that they will get there in one piece or all of them will survive. In fact, it’s mentioned that the heroes will reach the final battle “in some form” and one of them has to die. So here you have multiple Chosen Ones continuing on with the knowledge that one of them doesn’t have a future beyond the big battle. That’s if they win anyway.

This addition makes the Chosen One trope more like a curse, which is how it should be from some perspectives. Luke Callindor starts the series as a young warrior looking for his first adventure. He takes beatings, nearly dies multiple times, and has his ego brutalized all in the first book. This is before he learns that he is destined for greatness. When that happens, things get even worse for him. Powerful creatures are out to kill and torture him and terrifying powers are offered to him. A Chosen One really shouldn’t step into the role and carry on like it’s a natural thing. They’re simply humans with a great story to tell and a big target on their backsides. Luke has doubts, fears, and comes close to breaking so often that a few readers have dubbed him weak. They haven’t even seen the worst that happens to him.

I think we forget the downside to being hoisted above the crowd when we read or write about Chosen Ones. Those characters are exposed and targeted because the villains always know they’re coming. Loved ones are in danger and those who aren’t chosen may become resentful enough to turn into enemies. There is no flexibility of path and they can’t think too much about the future since they are a pre-written story to some extent. All of this can create some level of anguish or distance for the character. Without that, the heroes are empty and can come off as arrogant.

matrix-bestSo, should the Chosen One trope be retired? No, because it isn’t really any different than being born with natural talent. I’ve met artists like that and it isn’t always pretty. Instead, maybe authors should make it less of an honor and more of a Sword of Damocles. Personally, I don’t think a Chosen One should reach the end of the road without baggage, scars, and being less shiny than they were at the beginning. For example, quality of movies aside, Neo in The Matrix lost a lot before he came to the end. That’s what I’m hoping to do with my champions if they win the final battle. The survivors will not be getting away clean and become symbols that being a Chosen One isn’t as great as one would think.

Hero Cover FinalCover art by Jason Pedersen

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New Charles Author Photo Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. Legends of Windemere is his first series, but it certainly won’t be his last.

Harry Potter and Voldemort from blog.wordnik.com.
Beginnings of a Hero cover courtesy of the author. Keanu Reeves as Neo from 21stcenturywire.com. Target on back from peacebringer7.wordpress.com. Comfy Chair Shopkins figure photo by L. Marie.

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43 thoughts on “Guest Post: Chosen for Greatness

      • With that, I have to wonder if the writers had the ending in mind when they began the series. I was impressed by Babylon 5 and the fact that the head writer had the five-year arc planned. And look at Avatar: The Last Airbender. The creators had their three-year arc planned.

        But sometimes fans put pressure on the show runner with demands for endings that fit what they want to see, especially in regard to relationships like love triangles. 😦 Team Jacob fans won’t be happy when Team Edward prevails. 😦

      • A lot of writers have the endings planned, but things can get in the way. Sometimes the writer is replaced and the new guy doesn’t follow what was left behind. Other times, the fans react poorly to a plot twist and the writer changes stuff to recover. I think the fan pressure is becoming more of a factor at times. Not so much with books, but with movie and TV series. Studios try to swing stuff toward what the people want while retaining the original plan, which doesn’t always work.

      • I agree. I stopped watching a show that started off as the story of two characters, but switched to focus solely on one character–to the detriment of the show. Fans reacted negatively and stopped watching the show. The show runners ignored the fans’ demands. Now the show teeters on cancellation.

      • I didn’t want to name it and give a spoiler, in case you haven’t yet seen it or want to binge watch it and catch up. This is what messed me up with Downton Abbey. People kept giving spoilers. 😦

      • I don’t watch as much TV as people think. Most of my viewing ends up being DVD’s. Though I’m guessing it’s a police procedural. Only because most shows are police procedurals. 😛

      • Okay. Then it’s Sleepy Hollow. I’m disappointed by a show that started off promising, but then devolves. 😦
        Yes, every show is either a police procedural or a medical procedural.

      • She wanted to leave because she’d been reduced to plots that revolved around the other character. I can’t say I blame her. It wasn’t what she’d signed up to do. But that’s what goes with not having much of a plan. I looked at the behind the scenes documentaries for the first two seasons. They were making it up as they went each week.

      • Weird. You’d think they were more prepared. I sometimes wonder if newer TV series never plan for more than one season. That or they hit a point that goes beyond the initial idea. Makes me worried for the new shows I’m into like ‘Lucifer’.

      • Ha ha! 🙂
        Yeah, I guess developing a new show is such a gamble these days! I’m tired of getting invested in a show, only to have it canceled.

      • I certainly am part of that population! I love that I can get whole seasons of shows through Netflix to watch at your convenience! I often miss shows during the week, and have to play catch-up!

  1. Good luck Charles with this novel and his thematic.
    Wishing you full success and perhaps a translation in French later .
    Thanks to L.Marie to let you present here your work.
    In friendship
    Michel

  2. Pingback: Where Was I Today? Guest Blogging Locations! | Legends of Windemere

  3. L. Marie: I wish I could fit into your comfy red chair…guess I’ve had one too many tall, cool and calorie laden drinks! HA!

    Isn’t it grand to have a ‘guest’ blogger from time to time?

    Congrats to Charles – enjoyed the discussion.

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