The Chosen One: Loved & Hated

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Apparently, I did write about Destiny and Free Will long ago.  This time, I’m hoping to get more into the characters that are bound by such things.  Still, I’ll do a quick summary of how these two forces work in Windemere:

Gabriel is the 5th God of Destiny and creates the paths for most of mortal-kind.  For the majority of people, he simply decides how long they’ll live and what they will find the most fulfilling in life.  Those that will be the heroes and villains of the world get a lot more detail put into their creation.  Yet, there is a limit to how much is decided.  Free Will exists and fills in the gaps or even goes against destiny because of how vague the creation was in the first place.  For example, a person is destined to be happiest as a butcher.  This doesn’t mean he will find his way to this goal and might decide to be a blacksmith instead.  So, destiny is not absolute in Windemere due to the gods mucking around so much in the past that the whole system is damaged.  Blame Yola’s mortal mother and the God of Innocence she tricked into giving her the Staff of Solar for that.

Now that is how I created the system in the hopes of people not eye-rolling at the idea of a destined hero.  It still happens, but at least there are written in reasons for things not going to plan.  Gabriel even states that he can only write the beginning, end, and big events in the middle, but the chosen ones need to get to each point by their own power.  This is why there have been hundreds of failed champions in Windemere’s history.  They made bad decisions that removed them from the path.  I tend to enjoy this because it means that things can still go wrong.  Nobody is sure to live or go through with what they’re supposed to do.  It shows that they aren’t total pawns of fate and this also helps to evolve the gods and goddesses as they react to mortals catching them by surprise.

Again, this is always a touchy subject.  Many people hate the destined hero concept because it comes off as too easy.  The character is involved because he has no choice even if he thinks he has one.  Maybe this stems from our own desire to control our fates and we project this onto fiction.  Perhaps we simply read too many stories with this concept and the next one we read is the one we call a trope.  Funny how the one that we label depends entirely on what we’re introduced to first.  I’m probably getting off-topic here, but this is something to think about with the topic.  Why does one hate such a character when it has such a long tradition and can be tinkered with?

Now, I do have some suggestions for doing a chosen hero:

  1. If they go with the flow after learning about their destiny then make sure it goes with their character.  As I said, most people hate to be pushed into something without a choice in the matter.  If the character isn’t fighting against it then you need to explain why.  Examples:  Nyx raised knowing her destiny, Luke Callindor wanting an adventure, Timoran being loyal to his new friends, etc.
  2. Make sure the chosen hero is the only one that can do whatever it is he or she is destined to do.  Basically, there really needs to be a reason that others can’t defeat the villain, find the object, or whatever the goal is.  Example:  The champions are the only ones who can fight the Baron because they are the only ones who can use the Compass Key, which is needed to reach him.
  3. Create a system of destiny or at least decide on how someone is chosen.  Is the decision made by gods, wizards, demons, oracles, star signs, etc.?  You really can’t say a character is destined and leave it at that.  I mean, you can and leave the whole thing a mystery, but then it loses some of its impact.
  4. The truth is that this is a fairly simple reason for heroism if you boil it down to the raw essence.  It’s really all about the bells, whistles, and character reactions.  At least I believe that they need to have some type of thought on being destined.  For example, the champions in Windemere repeatedly wonder if they’ll have a future after their final battle.  They know they can die, but also realize that defeating the Baron ends their destiny and leaves the rest of their life a blank page.  This is especially hard for Nyx, who hasn’t known anything else.  How do you go from having a grand, god-given purpose to being the only one to call the shots in your life?

About Charles Yallowitz

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.
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13 Responses to The Chosen One: Loved & Hated

  1. Bookwraiths says:

    I have to admit not loving the destined hero concept much anymore. When I was younger, I really enjoyed it, but I believe seeing it done poorly over and over again in the fantasy genre ruined it for me. (I won’t even mention the MATRIX movie, which also help contribute to my dislike of Chosen Ones.) But your ideas to liven it up are good ones. Things all authors should consider when thinking of using this type of character.

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    • It’s funny how we can love it when kids, but it falters when we’re adults. Maybe one needs a little naivete or innocence to believe in a person being destined for greatness. As an adult, we’re told that it’s hard work that achieves such things. In fact, destiny can almost feel like luck. I know a lot of people who see someone get a lucky break and become annoyed because it doesn’t require skill or hard work to achieve. Guess what I’m saying is that we grow out of the idea of destiny and fate in some way. Poor ‘Matrix’ gets beaten on so much on this topic. I wonder if it would have done better without the sequels because that first one is still fun to watch. It had more of a ‘is he or isn’t he’ take on the Chosen One story.

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  2. These are interesting concepts. I think things become tropes because they work. Then after being overused you have a trope. A fresh spin on something that works is always welcome.

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  3. This was another interesting discussion. To your last line I think that is what makes Nyx so interesting. She knows where she is supposed to go but no one is driving here there. Good stuff.

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  4. Pingback: What do you call a group of writers? I have a suggestion! | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  5. You’re right, the idea of a Chosen One has been covered so often that it does become tired. But I’ve thought in the past about the Arthurian character, Sir Galahad, who was the only one pure enough to find the Holy Grail. What would happen if Galahad was such a rebel that he was no longer pure? Or if he was so pure that he refused to take a life, which is kind of basic to being a knight.

    This may be why many contemporary re-tellings of traditional stories are “flipped” somehow, so that the princess rescues the prince or the fairy godmother turns out to be an evil mastermind.

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    • I haven’t looked at the Arthurian legends for a while. I seem to remember that nobody knew exactly who the chosen one was there. So everyone went off looking for the Grail and it ended up being Galahad. Want to say he died getting it too. Those legends seem to have multiple versions.

      The thing with the ‘flipped’ tales is that they’ve quickly become as predictable as the originals. In the past, you could have several stories with the same core idea and it wouldn’t feel saturated because there was spacing between the releases or not as much advertising. Now, it feels like you get 2-3 ‘flipped’ stories every year and they’re celebrated as if they’re the first ones to do it. We really do run trends into the ground very quickly these days.

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