Knock Your Hero Down

Fate is a vindictive ex-wife with a good lawyer and a PI who will do anything for money. It does not matter if it is politically correct to say something like that out loud, it is simply a truth most people realize. If your hero is too perfect or your characters aren’t damaged enough you won’t have many repeat customers as a writer.

Too many writers play it safe when coming up with flaws. True, your character should tell you their flaws during the time you hear them speaking, however, it is often the case you do not get to hear from all of the characters. Point of View (POV) means your character is telling it to you as _they_ see it. We all lead lives where a great many unseen things impact us one way or another. We are not omniscient. We don’t see our employer is about to ship everyone’s job off-shore the week after we buy a new car or close on a house. This is the case of an unseen thing impacting us brutally.

Movies based on comic book characters tend to give their hero quirky flaws a kid can understand but if you aren’t writing a comic book you need to dig a bit deeper. Maybe it isn’t an ugly flaw but a severe character bruising your character needs. Here is one my mother told me about around Christmas time 2016.

We had a nasty winter storm a few days before. It left ice everywhere. Mom had to go to the Post Office to mail some bills. She doesn’t like to put envelops with checks in the mailbox at the end of the lane. Since it was so icy she shuffled along only as far as the big blue box after getting out of her car as the path to the door looked even worse. She looked behind her after depositing the envelops and saw a 6+ foot tall 30 something man who obviously worked out flat on his back. Before she could speak this blue haired little old lady came out of the Post Office and asked him if he was alright.

Admittedly the picture of this hulking manly man being peeled off the ice by a blue haired little old lady is something of a comic book gag, but, you can have fun with it. You can turn it into a running joke. Every time some action scene is about to start you can have another character ask him if they should call the little old lady to help.

The guy doesn’t know just how lucky he was. Not that he wasn’t injured, but that no Millenial was around with a video camera phone, because that video would be on-line haunting the guy long after his death.

Apparently fate was just a touch less vindictive on this day, or the lawyer wasn’t answering their phone.

Leave a Reply