The Reckless Hero

In literature, the Reckless Hero is someone who jumps into the fray with abandon (and often without a clear plan of action). The reckless hero doesn’t mind picking things up as they go along, but as a result, they may find themselves having to loop around or in a spot of trouble because they’re not always the best at listening to the warnings or advice of others.

One of my favorite Reckless Heroes is Rachel from C.J. Redwine’s Defiance Trilogy. She’s smart, she’s capable, she’s deadly, but her impulsive nature constantly lands her (and others around her) in hot water. Other favorite Reckless Heroes include Tanwen from Lindsay Franklin’s The Weaver Trilogy and Carswell Thorne from Melissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles. One of the things I admire most about the reckless hero is that they are fully committed to their cause—even if they’re working from questionable motives.

“I’m sorry, Riwor. I just wanted to try something new.”

—Tanwen, The Story Peddler

One of the things I’ve noticed about Reckless Heroes is that they often operate from a place of deep hurt. And far too often that hurt is pushed aside and ignored in their rush to achieve a goal that they believe will set things right. And too often they think they’re better going it alone.

What helps them? Having a close group of friends who encourage their wild creativity and who have the patience (and earned trust) to help rein them in and help them focus when they’re running straight toward a dead end or into a deadly trap.

The physical act of writing can be a great form of therapy for hurts (emotional, physical, and mental). And sometimes writing helps us process through deep wounds we might not be willing or able to recognize in our lives yet. But a reckless approach to our writing can also cause us to ignore vital advice in our rush to publication. We can cause us to skip steps, ignore common mistakes, and to think we can figure it all out on our own as we go. All because we aren’t recognizing that there is a deeper issue to deal with—a lack of trust in others.

Please note being reckless isn’t always the same as being wrong. Sometimes what others deem reckless is simply you making a choice that others deem “too risky” for themselves. It means that you’re not afraid to make mistakes, to take a chance, and to test something to see what happens. Just know you don’t have to make these types of choices on your own, and you might even save yourself a few setbacks if you let others in on your plans.

The Reckless Hero as a Writer

Writers who identify with this type of protagonist may may be so fixated on seeing their name in print that they rush to publication before they’re truly ready. As a result they might cut corners, burn bridges with other writers, and end up with an outcome that doesn’t quite live up to their expectation. Which is why they may need that one friend who is willing to risk a flared temper or a cold shoulder to throw them the lifeline they’re not aware they need in that moment.

If this sounds a bit like you, I have three tips that I hope will help aid you on your way.

  • Slow down & take a deep breath. You don’t need a fully detailed plan, but you should at least have an idea of what you’re trying to do, where you’re trying to go, and why you’re trying to get there.
  • Ask yourself “Will this help me reach my ultimate goal?” Once you know what you’re trying to accomplish and why, you can use it as a gauge for all the ideas running through your mind. If a certain idea doesn’t measure up, put a pin in it. You can always come back to it again later. Or not.
  • Listen to the advice of experienced writers & editors. Remember, they’re not trying to hinder you. They’re trying to help you. Any decision you make from there is up to you, but at least you have some extra intel to work with!
  • Bonus: Befriend a Reclusive Hero. These are relentless researchers. They are writers who are curious like you, but often lean toward theory instead of application. Their love of knowledge (and sharing that knowledge) can help point you in the right direction when you need to do a little soul-searching of your own. And their quiet nature will help give you a peaceful place to rest for a spell while you figure some things out before pressing ahead in your journey.

Got your notebook and snacks ready? Good! Let’s answer some questions!

  1. Who are some of your favorite reckless heroes in literature, TV, or film?

2. What is it about their story that resonates with you?

3. If you feel like you’re the reckless hero in your writing journey, what is one thing you can do this week that will help set you up for future success?

Endure fort!


A little about Jen:

Before launching my freelance editing business in 2017, I spent 10 years working as a copyeditor and managing editor in magazine publishing. I’ve worked as a ghostwriter, have edited training materials and informational resources for internationally respected Non-profits, and have been published in magazines, anthologies, and other publications—including the Christian Writer’s Market. I’ve also been a finalist and semi-finalist for the Oregon Cascade and ACFW Genesis writing contests for my unpublished YA fantasy writing.

My clients include award-winning, traditionally published authors, as well as previously unpublished writers who have gone on to successfully self-publish their work or receive full submission requests from agents/editors.

You can learn more about me at or by following me on Instagram: @thewriterswellspring or @j.e.lindsay.

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