Tag: fatal flaw

Superman Needs Cellulite

Superman: the perfect ideal. Flawless. All the men want to be him. All the women know he’s too good to be true. What the man needs is a little cellulite.

Okay, maybe that’s more of a woman flaw. But let’s face it, perfect heroes are unrealistic. The average person doesn’t relate to them.

This is why every great writer knows that the best protagonists have a flaw -or twenty. It’s not called an Achilles Heel for nothing. When the only thing that can defeat a guy is a piece of rock from an extinct planet in a different universe, there’s not much tension in the story.

Why so Perfect?

(And yes, I hear the Joker saying this just like he does the iconic line “Why so serious?”)

According to the director of the newest Wonder Woman film (coming in June 2017), there’s a reason Superman has over-inflated muscles and perfect hair. Apparently, this image is how men want to see themselves. “That makes them feel like the hero they want to be” says Jenkins.

Looks like an over-inflated balloon to me

Ugh. And I thought women were the only one with messed-up body image issues.

I do NOT think a man with pecs and biceps bigger than his thighs is the ideal image of a hero. And certainly not a REAL man.

Do we really need a perfect ideal?

If the answer is yes, let me direct you to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Within those pages, you will meet the flawless, ideal man. He was perfect in every way.

And guess what, he didn’t have sculpted abs or a poster-boy face. In fact, he was pretty ordinary. Records from history and the Bible (which is an accurate historical accounting but since it’s considered a religious book some people equate it to a fairy tale), Jesus Christ was so average-looking that he wouldn’t garner a second look.

It wasn’t his physical appearance that made him incredible. Nor was it his ability to heal every disease and raise people from the dead (although those are God-like qualities for sure).

He opened his mouth and spoke with authority. Wisdom dripped from his lips. Furthermore, he walked His talk.

So, if you’re looking for a perfect hero – there you go.

Why flaws Make it better

Most of us prefer to see a little bit of ourselves in the guy we root for in a story. You know, someone who messes up. Says the wrong thing. Trips over untied shoelaces. Burns the biscuits.

These slights and failures give us hope. Hope that maybe we will be better tomorrow.

We need reassurance that our major mess-up today didn’t end every future opportunity.

Have you ever walked out of an interview thinking, “I nailed that” only to get the call (or worse yet a form email) stating they’d hired someone else? That’s disappointing, sure. But we don’t condemn ourselves as a failure in those cases.

We notice we have mustard in that spot just below our throat that we can only see in the mirror. Our tongue tripped over the answer to the technical questions. Nothing but a blank slate came to mind when the interviewer asked, “Why should I hire you?”

After that interview? We know it’s our fault they offered the job to someone else. They’d have to be idiots to hire someone who couldn’t even answer a few questions with panache.

When our heroes slip and get mud on their faces, we feel for them. We’ve been there. We know the agony.

If they get up and save the world afterward, it makes up willing to hold up our chin and try again at whatever defeated us today. Sure, it might be fiction, but when it pulls us in, it becomes as true to us as the sunrise.

We need to believe that no person is beyond redemption. Every mistake must have a counterpoint, a way to make things right.

It shouldn’t be easy. The bigger the mess up, the longer and harder the climb to success should be.

We’re more likely to relate to Batman because we understand his demons. We can feel the pain with the Arrow because we’ve experienced life-crushing losses too.

Superman? There’s no Kryptonite in our world, so his perfection holds us at arm’s length.

What sort of “cellulite” would you give Superman to make him more relatable? What character flaws pull you closest to the heroes in a story?

Do Real People have fatal flaws? Or is that reserved for fictional characters?

Image from spkaa.com

Fatal flaw: the motivator or personality trait (key element) that causes a person’s downfall.

In the early days of literature, this concept was called “hamartia.” Yes, it’s from Ancient Greek. I’m sure other literature majors who read this blog might recognize it. Sometimes I like to throw around terminology that might expand your vocabulary.

Because hamartia is a word you can use in daily conversation. “Her hamartia is her need to control everyone.”

Or not.Hamartia-definition

As I’m developing the characters in my current book into deep, believable people, one area that needs attention is the idea of a fatal flaw. Because in literature, a good story is made better if a character’s fatal flaw is exploited. To help me with this, I found a workshop by Laurie S. Campbell. She discusses nine personality types and their corresponding fatal flaw. Sounds easy enough.

For example, my heroine, Zi Yan fits character type eight: the Controller. Her background as the daughter of a wealthy businessman has enabled her to control many things around her. Unfortunately, there is one thing she can’t control – her visions of the future.

But she tries. She limits her exposure to suggestions that might lead to a vision. I’ll just predict test scores and prom dates, she decides. Visions about these frivolous matters will occupy my mind so I don’t have to see death and destruction. Or not.

So her fatal flaw is lust for control. She desires to run the show and do things her way. When working with a dragon, that is a highly unlikely scenario. If she can’t be in charge, then she will play an important role in things. And when she realizes her “gift” is not the one that will save the world, she has her dark moment.

We have dark moments in real life, too. There are times when we feel all is lost and can’t see how to resolve the problem. So are these moments brought on by our fatal flaw?

In my experience, I am a deeply flawed character. This should teach me that my story people should be deeply flawed if I want them to be believable and relatable. But is there one character trail that causes me to trip and fall on a regular basis? I’m not so sure.

According to the list of character types, I best fit into the type one category – The Perfectionist. I know this comes as a total surprise to those of you who know me.

If this list is accurate, my fatal flaw is supposed to be anger. Do I get angry at myself when I don’t measure up? Do I get angry at other people who don’t live up to my standards?

It’s an interesting thought. One I’ll be pondering for some time to come. I can’t say whether I’ll share my determination with you. Unless there is an overwhelming response to this post demanding that I do.

Are you willing to speculate on this topic? If so, you can find the character types and associated fatal flaws at this link. Check them out. Find yourself.

Do you believe your fatal flaw matches up with your character type? Is there such a thing as a fatal flaw for real people?