The Thinking Hero: Brains Over Guts

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A while back, I did a series of posts on type of fighters, which included strength, speed, and tactical.  It was this last section (labeled as Counters and Caution) that I had trouble with because I couldn’t put my finger on the best explanation.  Strategists still use strength, speed, and agility when they enter the battle.  This left me wondering how one writes the tactics of various characters.  So, I’m going to look into what I considered the two mental extremes: Thinker and Instinct.

Today is all about the Thinking Fighter/Hero who comes up with a plan before stepping into action and keeps their mind working throughout the event.  This would be Delvin Cunningham more than any other champion and it’s his specialty.  Because of his skill at coming up with plans, he is able to hold his own and defeat opponents who outclass him in turns of magical and physical power.  His equipment shows this too since he is the only champion with a shield, which allows him to block and wait for an opening.  All of the others need to move quickly to avoid getting hit or strike first, but Delvin can stay close and take a little more abuse while thinking of a solution.  I’m not saying the other characters don’t do this, but it’s certainly more apparent with him.

A Thinker can work great as a solo hero and within a group.  With the former situation, this is how such a character would stay alive and build up a serious reputation.  Those who don’t think much and just barrel into battle tend to be seen as dangerous, unbalanced, and immature.  This is the reason Delvin climbed the ranks of the mercenary world and is treated like the adult in the room more often than his friends.  This mentality also shifts to non-combat situations because he is used to thinking before acting.  Puzzles, traps, and even commonplace social encounters are made easier because the character has trained themselves to stop and think.  It doesn’t always make for the most exciting scenes since they act slower and talk more, but they certainly can have a more stable presence.

Especially when you put them in a group where they can create plans and be the one who keeps the team together.  Having everyone work off instinct gets sloppy, but having that one Thinker can forge a formidable group.  This character needs to be social too because the others need to listen to him and he needs to learn about them.  One reason Delvin is an effective strategist is because he takes the strengths, weaknesses, and habits of the others into account.  He also knows not to keep too tight a hold on the reins because that can cause conflict.  Thinkers can easily fall into the control freak role, which means they won’t be very effective.  A group dynamic needs trust and respect, but that goes double for a character like this.

The one thing I love about the Thinker is the effect it has on me.  When writing Delvin, I have to take on his mentality and think many steps ahead.  Yes, I outline and write character bios, but that doesn’t mean I have the specifics.  Many of the Legends of Windemere battles owe a lot of their details and scenes to me having Delvin come up with a tactic.  Even if it isn’t mentioned in the book, I get a sense of what he would have told the others or come up with on his own.  That’s only when he’s involved in the fight too.  When he isn’t in the scene, I still need to be a Thinker to make sure the flow works out and that every participant has a role to play.

I’m hoping to do more Thinkers in the future.  They’re a lot of fun to write, but that might just be the Plotter in me.

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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38 Responses to The Thinking Hero: Brains Over Guts

  1. L. Marie says:

    Great quote. And of course I think of The Art of War. A good military tactician is a great character to have. It’s so cool that Delvin causes you to keep thinking several steps ahead. Sounds like a chess master. 🙂


    • I never got to have Delvin play chess. He needed to be this kind of hero though. Luke already had swords and speed while Timoran had raw strength. The type of warrior they were missing was one that could join everyone together through strategies. So, thinking ahead helps make him come off as a character with great foresight.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Olivia Stocum says:

    I have a copy of The Art of War. It’s been helpful for me in navigating life, which is kind of like a series of battles. Nice work with character development. I want to write blog posts about my characters but I just feel stupid. Hmmm…. I might have develop my own character a bit.


    • I’ve never actually read it, but at least one of my friends has. Another has the book and swears he’ll get to it one day. Character development posts are tough because you run the risk of spoilers. I like keeping them vague and just going along with it. More people enjoy the look behind the character than authors realize. Sometimes it only has to be the inspiration behind the character.

      Liked by 1 person

    • ionia martin says:

      Eh hem…I’m totally interrupting this conversation to say that your characters are never boring, so therefore posts about them couldn’t be boring. You may now return to your regularly scheduled conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Olivia Stocum says:

        Haha! Thank you for the interruption. I’m going to make a practice post and see if I can do it!! (I think I can, I think I can). I hope things are going well for you, Ionia!


  3. Interesting idea of a thinking hero.


  4. Great post. Reed Richards was always one of my favorite characters. The Art of War isn’t a long book and is well worth your time.


  5. ionia martin says:

    I always tend to prefer brains over brute force. Or a combination of both. Muscles only go so far IMO. Thinking characters make a book more interesting because they can problem solve and add to the creativity of a scene.


    • The muscle usually works best in a group, but I agree that a combo is ideal for a protagonist. Pure brutes can’t get a story moving as easily as a thinker. Then again, the Incredible Hulk was a brute for the beginning of his existence. So there are some stories that can use a muscle only hero. Depends on their motivation and personality too.


  6. Reblogged this on Author Don Massenzio and commented:
    Check out this great post from the Legends of Windemere blog on the thinking hero. I have used this hero type in my own work and Charles does a great job of discussing this type of character.


  7. I love Delvin’s example, especially the shield detail! You sure have put a lot of thought into this.


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