I am officially throwing down the gauntlet. Nay Sayers, I challenge you! I am tired of hearing from agents, publishers, critics, and other authors that have been brainwashed to believe that a character with a “destiny to save the world” is passé, old hat, and unoriginal. Yes, it’s been done. And yes, it can be done badly.
But there’s a reason why the idea of a person being gifted in such a way, that he and only he, can complete a specific task (i.e. save the world?) resonates with readers.
Because it’s archetypal.
It’s threaded deep into human consciousness. We are all aware that we are born without duplication (even twins) – to be genetically, spiritually, and personally unique. (Please leave out the cloning arguments here. That’s an entirely different discussion.)
If anyone has ever seen Joseph Campbell’s series of interviews on PBS with Bill Moyers, you’ll know what I mean. The power of the mind to relate to metaphorical representations about human truths is what story telling is all about. So when you tell me a specific archetype is “passé” based upon current market trends, or because it’s been done before, I say to you, “Boy meets girl has been done. Are we going to nix that from the vault of story-telling ideas simply because someone has been there, and done that?”
My argument is that the human mind craves the validation that we are all born special. Readers will always relate to a character with a unique power, or characteristics, that enable him to save the world, because that’s what we do as humans, right? We use our abilities to save our own slice of the world, and the metaphorical portrayal of that premise lies with the epic character, fighting to save his world, or planet, or universe.
I am not saying be lazy and rehash old stories. Be creative, original, outlandish even. Bring your own special flare to the stories you write. But why shy away from an archetypal truth just because someone, somewhere, said they’ve “seen too many” of these types of stories?
The boy meets girl premise will never go away—it’s human to connect, and we will unfailingly seek that connection through fiction.
Consequently, I say readers will always love a good hero saves the world story. We have to. It’s programmed deep within the mythic truths of our minds to validate our specialness through the vicarious adventures of well-drawn characters on heroic journeys to right their worlds in hopes that we too, can right our own reality.