Don’t answer that.
I am. I’m not a homicidal maniac or anything (not that I would admit it if I were), but I have flaws. However, my flaws aren’t interesting. Not to me, not to you…Well, maybe to you if one of my flaws happens to rub you the wrong way. My point is no one is going to write a book about my flaws.
Other than me, that is.
If I accept the premise of my last few posts that some of me will – and should – show up somewhere in my writing, then some of my flaws have to show up, too. Scary thought.
I don’t mean to imply that every flaw of every character is exactly one of mine. But flaws, whatever they are, tend to sprout from the same fallen place inside each of us. No matter what particular plant grows up, the soil from which it springs is common to all. For example, pride expresses itself in all kinds of ways, and each way can make an interesting plot complication.
I love writing about flawed characters. A character who struggles not only against an external dilemma but must do so while wrestling with himself is so much more interesting, don’t you think?
Look at Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings. Would we care as much about Frodo’s quest to destroy the One Ring if we didn’t know while all the evil in the world is bent on destroying him, he is struggling against his own growing, obsessive desire to keep it for himself?
Okay, maybe we would, but maybe not. Our hero’s battle against himself as well as the world makes him even more heroic. Provided he wins.
You know the trouble with Superman? When you create a guy who’s invincible, what do you then write about him? He can do anything and no one can stop him. That’s not interesting. So you give him Kryptonite, the more kinds the better, and some enemies who match him in strength but not Boy-Scouty-ness, and you’ve got a story. Otherwise, you’ve got the news, except instead of the police, firemen, and emergency personnel saving the day, you’ve got Superman. As Christopher Walken would say…Yawn.
So hats off to all the flawed heroes who fight not only external monsters but inner demons.
After presenting the idea that character flaws originate with us, I’ll ask a far scarier question. Who are your favorite flawed heroes and why?
Don’t worry. No judgments here. We’re all a bit cracked, no matter how hard we try to deny it.