162 – Our Changing Views of Heroes

The Mythcreant Podcast

The definition of a hero changes over time. What kind of heroes did you like when you were a kid? What kind of heroes do you like now? How are they different? That’s what we’re talking about this week. We reveal the darkest secrets of our childhoods and adolescence tastes, all for your entertainment.

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Have a question or comment for our hosts? Send it to [email protected]

Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes:

Candy and Spinarch



Wesley Crusher

William Parry


Taran, Eilonwy, and Gurgi

Bilbo and Frodo

The Enchanted Forest

Star Trek: Discovery

Ron and Harry and Hermione




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  1. Razr39325

    In this podcast you guys talk about how in your teenage years, you liked or wrote grim dark stories. You also joked about how “the more dark and gritty, the more real it was” viewpoint you had as teenagers. I am currently in my teenage years and I realize that this viewpoint is something that is evident in my outlook on things. Do you have any advice for writing a story, as a teenager, that would not be so gritty and dark. And also, how is dark and gritty not more real? I need to expand my viewpoints, please help an aspiring author.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      On the matter of Dark and Gritty, Chris actually has a post that might be helpful: When Dark and Gritty is Just Exploitation. https://mythcreants.com/blog/when-dark-and-gritty-is-just-exploitation/

      To expand on that a little, the reason we tend to mock the idea that dark and gritty = realistic is that the real world is an enormously complex place. Yes, it is often a grim place, but it is also full of joy, and also of absurdity.

      Storytellers make deliberate choices of what to include in their work. Stories that are stuffed full of violence, degradation, and death might seem realistic because that’s what we see on the news, but they leave out both the positive aspects of the world, and the ridiculous ones.

      Game of Thrones is a classic example. Yes, it’s got grotesquely realistic depictions of sword wounds, but it’s missing more ridiculous elements of the time periods its based on, like how raw sewage ran in the streets and codpieces were the height of fashion.

      This isn’t to say dark and gritty stories are automatically bad, just that they aren’t excused from best practices of storytelling and decency in the name of realism.

      People certainly like dark stories, and if that’s what you’re motives to write, go for it. Chris’ post can help you avoid the exploitation pitfalls, as can some of the other posts we’ve got like Five Common Problems With Dark Stories. https://mythcreants.com/blog/five-common-problems-with-dark-stories/

      If you’re looking to tell lighter stories, we’ve got a podcast about that too: https://mythcreants.com/blog/138-light-stories/

      Otherwise, the basic rules of storytelling apply, the trick is finding a conflict that resonates with readers but doesn’t drag down their mood. I would recommend reading Chris’ short story, Ambush at the Office for an example: https://mythcreants.com/stories/ambush-at-the-office/

  2. Julia

    Thanks, I really enjoyed listening to this podcast! It made me think of when I was a teen back in the Dark Ages before the whole YA phenomenon took off. There weren’t nearly as many female protagonists in the high fantasy settings that I loved, so I tended to do gender swaps in my head canon. Suddenly the chosen one was a discovered farm *girl*, and she got to go on the adventures.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      Head canon accepted.

    • E S Lavall

      Did you mean Elizabeth Moon’s Paksenarrion?

      • Julia

        Oh, wow: I haven’t read those books in a long time, but I loved them! Also Tamora Pierce’s Alanna / Song of the Lioness books.

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