Tag Archives: martial arts character

What Does She Want From Her Hero?

Scott and I on Tsuken Island (Okinawa, Japan)

After recently turning in my manuscript, synopsis, and blurb to my agent to pitch, I’ve been brainstorming my next novel and could use your help. The hero of this story is the brother of the last story’s hero, so his personality, goals, and motivation are pretty well defined already.


This is a romance novel and my hero needs a heroine. I’ve been racking my gray matter trying to come up with the kind of woman this hero needs. I figured since he has a strong personality, and thinks a little too highly of himself, he needs a strong woman who isn’t impressed by his macho attitude (he’s not really macho, he just thinks he is…think Howard Wolowitz on the Big Bang Theory, only not as nerdy or creepy).

Back to the heroine.

I want her to be physically strong, confident and teach karate (hey, everyone says write what you know, so I figured why not a karate instructor?) and she comes from a big family. My hero only has one family member so this will be a big adjustment for him especially when confronted with a few protective older brothers. 🙂  Not that the heroine needs their protection. She’s pretty good at handling things herself. Oh, did I mention she’s the hero’s sensei? Yup, the hero figures he can’t become a vigilante if he doesn’t know how to fight, and so joins her karate dojo. But he soon learns there’s more to being a “superhero” than punching and kicking.

Now for the part I need your help with…

If the heroine is already a strong, confident woman who owns her own business, what can she learn or gain by being with the hero? What is her vulnerability? What is her character arc? How does she grow to be a better person? Why does she find love with this hero and not anyone else?

Perhaps the answer lies in her reasons for her becoming a dedicated martial artist. I just wish I knew what that reason was. Any suggestions?

~K.M. Fawcett

Martial Arts and the Perfection of One’s Character

Well-developed characterization will help bring your story to life by making your characters believable and real. In order to convincingly depict a character’s appearance, thoughts, beliefs, behaviors and actions, you must understand him fully. Today’s blog post will explore some questions you should answer when creating your credible martial arts character.

First of all…

– Why is it important for the character to know martial arts?

– How much will the martial arts impact the story?

– What do you want to accomplish in the story using martial arts? If there is no course of action that occurs or philosophy that is followed by having a martial arts character, then there is no reason for him to have this background.

The 1984 movie THE KARATE KID demonstrates the characterization of two martial arts teachers, Mr. Miyagi and the Cobra Kai sensei, John Kreese. Both men had mad skills, but Mr. Miyagi believed karate should be used for self-defense only. He was humble, yet confident in his karate. The Cobra Kai sensei, on the other hand, was arrogant and cared only about kicking butt. He believed mercy was for the weak.

Think about your character. Does she brag about fights she’s been in or the tournaments she’s won? Does she display her trophies in her house or dojo (karate school)? Is she humble?

Does she practice martial arts for sport, fitness, self-defense or combat? What style does she study? This is important to know because different styles emphasize different techniques and philosophies. (I’ll blog more about this at a later date.) What is her personal philosophy and does it reflect the teachings of her style?  Does she know how to use a weapon or just her bare hands? What is her skill level? How long has she been training? How much knowledge of the art does she have?

How has the martial arts shaped your character’s life? Was there something in her past that led her to take classes? What was it? Has she overcome her fears? Is she taking classes to round out her training in another field? For example, a police officer.

How much is the martial arts a part of his life now? Does he still take classes? Teach? Does his martial arts training influence the way he behaves?  His code of honor? His cultural beliefs? The foods he eats? The décor of his home? Does he have sparring gear and/or weapons lying around the house or vehicle? Does he have a home dojo? A punching bag? A makiwara? Other martial arts equipment?

How does his martial arts impact his appearance? Is he small and wiry and quick? Does he have thick forearms? Does he have bruises? cuts? Big knuckles? Scars? Injuries? Does he wear t-shirts or a jacket with his school logo or patch on it? Adding little details can make your characters more vivid.

Although your reader may not need to know all the above information, it is important you do. These details will shape your character’s life, beliefs, decisions and actions. Remember, the consequences of those actions is what drives your story forward. The deeper your understanding of your martial arts character, the more believable and realistic he will be.

What other questions can you ask when developing your martial arts character?


~KM Fawcett