Flawed Heroes

I’ve been studying Donald Maass’ book The Fire in Fiction and came across an exercise that I thought I’d share regarding the protagonist.

My protagonist should be someone strong, but that can’t be enough. The exercise challenges me to find in him something conflicted, fallible, humbling, or human. (I like that last category!). It can’t be fatal or overwhelming, but should be a personal problem, a bad habit, a hot button, or a blind spot.

Once I’ve discovered this flaw, I need to demonstrate that flaw within the first five pages of my story. The last comment on the exercise is the key: Be sure to soften the flaw with self-awareness or self-deprecating humor. This helps the protagonist from being overwhelmed by the flaw.

I found this helpful. Hope you do, too.


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