Heroes and Heroines of Your Story
“SHOW ME A HERO AND I’LL WRITE YOU A TRAGEDY”–– F. Scott Fitzgerald
Ever wonder if your life is a comedy or tragedy, or are you lucky enough to be in a romance? In other words, when people look at your life, do they pity you, laugh at you, or swoon? I suppose we all have a nice mixture of both. The key is to find a good balance. I have a best friend who says that her husband’s entire purpose in life is to make her laugh everyday. And he does! I know another friend who seems to thrive on the drama. I also love the thought that we should dress for the job we want. Do we want to be a hero? A villain? A secondary character? Here is a little humor for you:
Facebook is designed to celebrate the Heroes and Heroines in the world. With a click of the button we can “share” and advertise for the single dad who figured out how to put his daughter’s hair into a ponytail using a vacuum, or as I did the other day, as I posted how I felt so special when the man in my life sent me flowers for Halloween. Within 24 hours I had over 100 people “like” what he did, elevating him into hero status. Truth was I didn’t need even one “like” from anyone, but it sure was nice to hear how many people thought he was a “keeper”.
But it got me thinking, what does it take to be a “keeper” or a hero? As F. Scott Fitzgerald says, “Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy.” What does he mean by this? What makes a man a hero?
As a writer, I will fully admit I write a little of me in to my books. I want to be the one with character development, I want to overcome trials, I want to fall in love, and of course, I want a happily ever after. But did you notice that the happily ever after came last? There had to be growth, and hurdles, and obstacles. There had to be conflict. For me specifically, I had to have tragedies like depression, divorce, and being a single working mother. But I am still the heroine of my story. I just know the ending hasn’t been written yet. But it got me thinking, does every good story need conflict? They do! A man who has always gotten what he wanted when he wanted will never have passion to dream about something better let alone have the work ethic to make the dreams a reality. A hero has to overcome something. For some it is a great many things.
So what about you? Maybe as you evaluate your life, and count your hurdles, or say goodnight one more time to another hard day, maybe you will find meaning to your life. This is your story. You are the hero. You have waited years to find meaning and happiness. Maybe this point in your life is a chance for you to pave the road to your happily ever after through character development. They say that a writer never puts any detail into a story without it meaning something. It could be as little as a phrase or as big as an entire scene, but in the end, each detail is a clue to how it will end. That means it isn’t just chapter one of your life that matters. Not just chapter ten either, but each and every day will predict how the end will come about. Maybe you will be surprised. Maybe your path will be clear, but no matter what, your life makes a great story.
Here are a few snapshots I took of the photo shoot for Hope For Fitzwilliam.
I want to share with you an excerpt from Hope for Fitzwilliam, book 2 in the Hope Series. It is a love story between the widowed Charlotte Collins, and Colonel Fitzwilliam that will be published in October 2016. In this scene, Colonel Fitzwilliam is on the battlefield fighting as hard as he can when tragedy strikes. I thought I would share this snippet because it is in this scene, this tragic scene, that he truly becomes a hero.
It was just after 4:00 a.m., the skies just barely lighting the world around them. It had been a frigid night up on the mountain with no fires to keep warm. Colonel Fitzwilliam had begun to feel the lack of sleep infiltrate him when he heard Captain James Dennis of the 49th Regiment breathlessly ask a man to his right where General Brock was.
“I am right here,” General Brock replied from behind Fitzwilliam. “What is it?”
“The Americans are crossing, sir! Three of the boats were swept downstream, but the remaining ones will land at the village any minute now. Ten boats altogether. I was just notified by the sentry. I have instructed my troops to fire as soon as they reach shore.”
“I knew it. Colonel Fitzwilliam, mount up! Let us go to the village. Leave a few men here to man the guns. Bring the 49th and the rest of your regiment and follow me. Captain Dennis? Fire at will. Blow them out of the water.” General Isaac Brock’s eyes were steel black with determination as he quickly mounted his own horse.
Orders were sent to the men running the 18-pounders while the rest of the men raced to the village of Queenston. Soon the British cannons began firing.
In the dark grey of dawn, Fitzwilliam could only see shapes and blurred shadows down below. But as he and his men neared the shore, the sun offered just enough light to make the 18-pounders’ aim deadly accurate. The massive cannons on Queenston Heights scattered the surprised Americans, but a second wave of boats was just about to reach shore. Colonel Fitzwilliam and Everett flanked General Brock, and he felt his heart race as he spotted the first enemy. Suddenly a boat exploded on the water, a direct hit from the cannons.
Colonel Fitzwilliam heard the cheers of the 49th regiment and turned to see their former leader, General Brock, galloping in. The general quickly dismounted, fully preparing for the fight. The men formed up and readied for their charge to the beach. “Charge!” the general called out. Colonel Fitzwilliam struggled to keep up with him. Together the two regiments ran straight into battle.
Shots and gunpowder filled the air, and the sound of metal against metal clanged through the early morning as the men fought with muskets and swords in hand-to-hand combat. All the colonel’s senses were piqued. He heard the drums in the background directing the regiment. It was as if everyone was moving in slow motion. Only he possessed the speed necessary to protect the general and his men.
Dawn gradually gave way to morning, and the fighting continued. He shot two men directly in front of him, both falling to the ground before they could pull out their pistols. He took one of their loaded pistols and searched out the next threat.
A large American charged, his musket positioned against his broad shoulder, and he aimed at the general. Colonel Fitzwilliam did not hesitate and shot the man, his aim a direct hit.
General Brock was managing his sword masterfully. His ghastly yellow sash fluttered in the wind with every lunge. Smoke was filling the air so thickly that it was difficult to assess where the most imminent threat was, but there was no doubt that the man was holding his own, regardless of the fact that he was over forty years old.
They could see the men fighting with every ounce they had. Everett had his sword out and was losing ground against an American when General Brock pulled out his knife and hurled it into the soldier’s neck.
Shouts of anguish were heard as men began dropping on both sides. The Americans began to make some headway, and men of the 49th were beginning to falter. Guns were firing heavily on them from every direction. Fitzwilliam saw a few unwounded men falling back in retreat. The colonel cursed under his breath and called out, “General!”, pointing to the deserters.
General Brock lunged and felled his opponent. Then he raised his sword and shouted, “This is the first time I have ever seen the 49th turn their backs! Surely the heroes of Egmont will not tarnish their record!” He sent an officer on horseback to stem the retreat, and the men quickly regrouped. Soon they were flanked with the rest of the 49th and what looked like two more regiments.
General Brock called out, “Colonel Fitzwilliam, have your men follow me to the right. We are making progress here.” He yelled out one more encouragement. “Push on, York Volunteers!”
Colonel Fitzwilliam ordered his men to follow. But just as the general raised his arm to motion the men over, his right hand was hit with a musket ball. Although Brock dropped his sword, he barely flinched. The great man took off his wildly flying yellow sash and wrapped it around his bleeding right arm without a word.
Suddenly an American stepped out from a bush. Colonel Fitzwilliam had not a second to move before the soldier took aim and fired directly at the general’s chest. The colonel raised his pistol and aimed at the assassin, but the firearm he had stolen off a dead soldier failed to fire. As quickly as he could, he raised his sword and charged.
He could hear General Brock spurting and coughing blood. Even so, his last words were undeniable: “Push on, brave York Volunteers.”
Knowing that his hero had just died fired something akin to unbridled passion inside Colonel Fitzwilliam. As if it were a rock, he threw the pistol that had failed to fire, hitting the American in the head. Then he plunged his sword into the man’s chest. As he was attempting to pull out the sword from the man’s body, he heard Everett call his name.
“Colonel! Behind you!”
On instinct, he left the sword where it was and reached for the knife in his boot and whirled around to find three American soldiers, each with a weapon in his hand. The one to the left held the most imminent threat. The colonel threw the knife at the man, causing him to drop his musket but not before he fired. Colonel Fitzwilliam felt a sharp pain in his left arm, just above the elbow. He realized that he now faced two soldiers unarmed. He once again reached for the sword, but it still held firmly in the chest of the man that had killed General Brock. With a strength he did not know he had, he pulled it out just in time to thwart a lunge from the second American. But his footing was off, and the pain in his left arm stung terribly. It felt like an eternity before Everett rushed to his side.
His comrade took on the larger of the two Americans, fighting masterfully and advancing against him. Colonel Fitzwilliam lunged and retreated in a dance that was as old as war itself. Men all around him were caught up in their own personal battles. Everett quickly felled his opponent and rushed back to the colonel.
The lone American facing Fitzwilliam saw it was not a fair fight anymore and retreated. Everett followed after him. The colonel ordered a few men to carry General Brock from the battlefield, but just as he turned to scan how Everett had faired, he heard a gun go off. It was no ordinary sound; it seemed to speak his name.
They say that in the chaos of war, a soldier can hear and see his death before it happens. Fitzwilliam’s vision tunneled, focusing on an American soldier who was dropping to one knee to take aim. Colonel Fitzwilliam knew instinctively that he was the target. Although it felt like time was standing still, there was no time to dodge. He turned to the right just as the smoke puffed from the man’s gun.
Colonel Fitzwilliam was thrown back with a force he had never felt. He landed on his back and saw the sky above him go black with each exaggerated blink of his eyes. Two, three, four seconds elapsed with each blink. He saw Everett above him yelling at him.
“Hang on, colonel!”
The chaos of war was all around him, but the only sensation the colonel knew was an immense pressure in his chest. He felt heavy, as if something was crushing him. He no longer heard the fire of guns, smelled the smoke, heard the drums of war, or registered the cries of his wounded men. The last thing he saw was the various blood splatters on Everett’s face. All he could think about was that Everett was above him, his mouth moving frantically saying something he could not make out, his wild hair whipping at his face, causing the blood to smear further. Everything was slipping little by little. Then, suddenly, Everett’s face was gone.
I hope you enjoyed this little snippet. I hope you can see the hero and heroine in the mirror as you make sense of the hurdles and trials you have had in your life. It may feel like a tragedy, but every hero needs character development. Every heroine needs to grow and pull closer in the face of conflict to the man that will be her happily ever after. And no matter if you have waited one year, twenty, or fifty years for your epilogue, remember that every chapter of your life brings that ending about. It will be up to you to find meaning and patiently wait for that conclusion. We are all heroes, be patient as tragedy touches the pages, for every hero has it. Maybe it is time to write your story!