Been mulling over this hero thing, and that made me think of how the character arc arcs and all that.
I really think that the characters have to change in the course of the book, so the way they are in the opening scenes is kind of a "before" picture-- how they are before they change because of the plot events. But the problem with that is... the character might not be instantly attractive if those opening scenes showcase the "opportunity for growth," those unevolved parts that must be changed. So how can we get the reader to hang on in those opening scenes-- make the character identifiable/sympathetic/interesting enough that the reader is willing to wait to see how he/she changes?
That is, how do we keep readers hanging on, if the "hero" isn't "heroic" in the first scenes?
Examples? I'm thinking of Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. He's dismissive, snobbish, unpleasant in his first scene. Why do we hang on and hope he wins Lizzie's heart? What did Austen put in there to get us interested in him?
"Ten thousand a year and a house in town." Well, wealth does appeal. :)
He also spars well with Lizzie, which is a useful ability in a hero-- he shows right away that he can get her humor and knows when she's zinged him.
He's a good friend to Bingley and shows that quickly, and that does indicate that he's able to love.
We're never in his POV, so we don't get all that backstory about him being orphaned early that might make for easy sympathy. (I don't think our sympathy ought to be engendered primarily by backstory anyway-- often miserable backstory is invented just to make this character more understandable, and that gets us quite away from the present of the story, and the organic development of characters. Remind me I want to write about "layering on" character and why that's bad.) We have to see him through Lizzie's eyes, and she doesn't like him... so do we? And if so, why?
Other examples? I think Rhett in Gone with the Wind is appealing in the first scene because he's irreverent-- he doesn't take the war or Scarlett too seriously. Also he is the only one who "knows" her, who knows that she's more than the debutante everyone else sees in her.
Okay, so look to your own work or favorite books. How -in the opening scenes- do we introduce a more problematic character and show the "room to change" without putting off the reader?