The next post in our series brings us to the reason many people read stories, especially adventure and fantasy stories.
We love to see our heroes emerge victorious, don’t we? She’s battled all of the author’s rocks, and at least once or twice it looked like defeat was assured. But she overcame.
Or maybe she didn’t.
Victory wouldn’t be as sweet if it was guaranteed – we wouldn’t worry so much about the hero. We may keep turning pages to see how he wins, but it’s the threat of defeat that keeps us up past our bedtimes.
That’s why heroes have to lose sometimes.
I’m a Marvel geek, and last year a movie came out that managed to assure both victory and defeat.
Captain America: Civil War pitted team Captain America against team Iron Man. There were some pretty epic moments – Spider Man stealing Cap’s shield was a personal favorite. But in the end, for us, it was good guy vs. good guy. The real bad guy set it up so they were fighting each other, and one of them had to lose.
I think that’s why it’s my favorite Captain America/Avengers movie so far (though I really didn’t like how things ended up for Wanda). It was going to be bittersweet no matter the outcome.
Even if our heroes win the war, they will likely lose battles along the way. Or maybe they win with complications. The victory is less sweet and perhaps more memorable if it comes with a little baggage.
Let’s back up one movie and talk about Ultron.
Remember how that one ended? The Avengers defeated the deadly machine that Tony created, but a whole city was destroyed in the process. The conflict springing from that helped launch the premise for Civil War. And that wasn’t the only “they won, but…” scenario. Scarlet Witch joined the team but Quicksilver died. Vision was created but Hulk disappeared.
Victories and defeats happened all along the way, and they kept us glued to our seats and holding our collective breath for more than two hours.
So how do we apply this to our stories? I love to write twists, and using unexpected victories or defeats is a great way to do that. The hero wins some battles and loses others, and maybe – maybe, she wins the war.
How do you use victories and defeats in your stories?