The Reclusive Hero

In literature, the Reclusive Hero is someone who tends to work in the shadows. They know what needs to be done and have a clear idea in their mind of what they need to do, but they prefer to keep their abilities hidden or—at bare minimum—avoid the spotlight. Once their work is completed, they’ll often slip back into the shadows until forced to emerge once again.

Two of my favorite Reclusive Heroes are Sherlock Holmes (who became a legend only because of the masterful storytelling of Watson) and James Scott Bell’s Mike Romeo. Both characters are well-read in matters that interest them, adept at problem solving, and quite comfortable spending the bulk of their time lost in their own thoughts. Unfortunately both have a low tolerance for spending any amount of time around groups of people, as they often find social activities to be rather draining on the nerves.

It was worth a wound—it was worth many wounds—to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask… For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain.

—Dr. Watson, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.”

One of the things I’ve noticed about the Reclusive Hero is that they have an insatiable appetite for collecting knowledge, but they’re not usually the best at passing on what they’ve learned to others. Like the Reluctant Hero, they often need to be dragged out of their comfort zones and like the Reckless Hero, they are fiercely independent. Which can leave them isolated and alone far more than is good for their mental and emotional well-being.

What helps them? Having one or two close friends who can respect their need for space and time, but who also recognize that they need a little extra coaxing (and maybe a little physical support) to join the world at large.

Please note that I’m not saying that being a reclusive writer is a sign of unhealth. For some it’s a matter of being extremely introverted. For others, it’s a preference for keeping specific aspects of their lives private. But reclusive writers may have to work a little harder to find a happy balance between maintaining healthy boundaries that meet their personal needs while also allowing them to develop meaningful interactions with readers, writers, and other publishing professionals.

The Reclusive Hero as a Writer

Writers who identify with this type of character likely have a clear idea in their mind of what they need to do in order to move forward in their writing journey, but for one reason or another they choose to keep their work to themselves. As a result, the Reclusive Hero may sit in one place for too long and miss out on an opportunity they would have otherwise enjoyed. And the world may miss out on the Reclusive Hero’s creativity, wisdom, and passion. Which is why writers like this often need a friend who pulls them out of their comfort zone and forces them to take a risk now and again.

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

  • Stop lurking in the shadows! Get involved in the writing community and engage in conversation! You never know what you might discover about others (or yourself) in the process.
  • Put your knowledge to use. Offer to share a skill you have to help others. Write a blog post, share helpful tips on social media, and use the experience to develop the confidence you need to share your words with others.
  • Take a risk. If you have a finished manuscript, share it with someone. Submit to a contest. Query an agent. Or look into hiring an editor to help you prepare your manuscript for submission if you’re not sure it’s ready for publication.
  • Bonus: Befriend a Reckless Hero. These are the risk-takers. The ones who chase after opportunity without constantly second-guessing themselves. It may be uncomfortable at first, but in time you’ll find that there is life outside your comfort zone. And life is far more enjoyable with a good companion at your side!

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. What is one thing you can do this week that puts your knowledge into public practice?

Onward and upward!

Jen signing off.

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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