I am fond of believing that anybody can be hero material. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Some are bold; some are quiet. Some are fearless; some press through their fears. Some are strong; some are weak. Some are crazy geniuses; others are simple folks. Even the unlikeliest character can become a hero...
...But only if you have enough time to show the change. Readers still demand a certain level of action and sacrifice by the end of the book. Being able to take a un-hero-like character and push him through trials that show his true metal is part of what makes a great book. But what if you are writing a short story?
Short stories can cover some of the same epic changes, but, due to the...well...shortness of a short story, you don't have as much room to cover the changes. Fewer characters can go through big changes, and the big changes cannot be quite so big. There simply isn't enough word-space to do it justice.
Which is why I had to rethink the hero in one of my Sleeping Beauty retellings. I pulled in too many "lies" for him to overcome, and he simply didn't have enough time to do it. I had to go back and cut down on his troubles so that I could do justice to the troubles he had.
How about you? Are your characters facing big changes in their lives?