Your Fatal Flaw

Another blog inspired by the Yahoo Fantasy group. One of the writers there made the point of how unhappy they’ve been with the BBC version of Robin Hood. Seems the Sheriff kills off Robin’s friends left and right while Robin, who at least tries to stop him, never makes the attempt to kill him. Worse yet, a few episodes into the series Robin Hood breaks into the Sheriff’s chambers, puts a sword to the man’s throat and tells him that if harm comes to any of Robin’s people he’ll kill the Sheriff. Apparently that sunk into neither of their heads.

Constraints of the medium have been mentioned as well as labeling this problem as a huge plot hole unfilled by the writers, but I see it as another problem, and one that relates to writing. It appears to me that the writers have a promise set up in their heads that they have not fully explained or made clear to the viewer (or in the case of our writing, the reader). That promise is that Robin cannot take another life.

There is even a point in the series when the Sheriff flat out states, “We both know you’re not the killing kind.”

The question is, why? Why can’t Robin take another life? Is it his fatal flaw? Does he have a Christian view of redemption so great that he believes that even the murderous Sheriff can come back from the depths to which he has sunk? Did Robin take a life in his past that so affected him (is that the right use of affect) that he can’t bear doing it again? Did he go all Shaolin monk on us?

The problem is not so much that the character has this problem it’s that the writers aren’t making it clear to the viewer why he has this problem. It’s something that we have to keep in mind with our own writing. Fatal flaws are great for creating tension in a story, especially when that flaw is in direct opposition to the conflict resolution.

One of two things is going to have to happen, either Robin finds a way to resolve the conflict without taking the obvious route, which is kill the Sherriff, or he comes to terms with the issue that is holding him back and he finally runs the bloke through.

It’s something that we should keep in mind when crafting our stories, that notion of the character having a hand in his own troubles. If you think about it, we do that in our own lives do we not? Sure, we might blame the whole of the outside world for where we are in life, but in the end what it comes down to is our own actions, our own fatal flaws.

I for one am terrible about taking risks and committing to things. I tend to make half hearted attempts and then blame the failed outcome on some external force. In reality I’m setting myself up for failure so that I don’t have to perform. Or maybe it’s something else. But it is definitely something that I do and I’m aware of that. This blog, in a way, is my attempt at working through those issues.

So, fatal flaws end up being important on two levels. They are important on a story level and they are important on a personal level. Understanding one lends itself to the other. So what’s your fatal flaw?

And on a side note, a little self congratulatory moment: This post marks the third week in a row where I’ve gotten a post up each day of the work week.  I thought that it was only two weeks, but upon checking into it, I’ve found that I was wrong, it’s three! Yay me!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend and that your words flow like warm honey fresh from the honey comb.


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