Hero stories: purpose and motivation

Hero stories are an interesting genre. What is the purpose of hero stories? What is their intended effect? And what motivates those who relay them?

The purpose of the hero story is to promote a hero—a person whose character is intrinsically valuable. Hero is to person as gold is to metal. It’s value in the very substance of the thing.

The intended effect of the hero story is hero worship.

What motivates the story teller is his encounter with the hero, or with those who have met the hero, or with those who have heard from other hearers. If you encounter a hero and admire him, if his way of living or professed beliefs inspire you, you will naturally promote him to others. The most startling and attractive value is the valuable other person.

One way of promotion is to write a hero story. What a joy to read! And the best part of the story is that the hero in the story is also the hero of you, the reader. He’s helping, or has helped, or will help—you.

Being recipient of the deed makes you a part of the hero story. Louis Mackey told me once that he was a Christian because it was his story. Good hero stories are autobiographical.