Forum»Questions & Answers»Heroic Questions and Helpful Answers - A (Continually Updating) FAQ Thread
Heroic Questions and Helpful Answers - A (Continually Updating) FAQ Thread
With a daily creative process like the #30DayChallenge, questions can arise on an almost second-by-second basis. "What do you mean by page work?" "Does my hero really need a flaw?" "Are seven cups of coffee before noon enough?"

All are important, but some are more useful to the process than others. Here, we seek to clear up some of the biggest questions and confusions you may have over the course of the Challenge. Post them below and we'll curate some of the most relevant on top of this thread, which we'll update as often as possible. See a question posted by a fellow writer that you've also had left unanswered? Feel free to use the Like button to encourage us to respond!

Q: Voice? Whose voice are we talking about? The writer's or the character's? If it is the character's voice, then we have to make it up? If it's the writer's, how can one run away from oneself? Isn't it innate? "straight quotes"

A: Quick answer is, "the writer's voice". The more extensive answer is this: we are addressing voice and Voice Pressure Points on the first day of the Challenge to do the very opposite of the above question with regard to running away from oneself. In other words, looking back on events and moments in the writer's life like the Day 1 lesson and written lecture describes causes the writer to get closer to himself. It allows the writer to learn from his past experiences so that he can see how those experiences affected his current world view. His current world view is technically considered "perspective". When you squeeze an orange, you get out of it orange juice. If you're squeezed, if you experience a challenging situation in your life, what comes out of you? Fear? Sadness? Frustration? Or is it a positive approach to a challenge? When squeezed, do you take it as a dare to be greater or better, or as a defeat and you give up? Your response to a challenging situation is likely based on some form of an experience you had in your past that changed your perspective on life and how life operates. Did you at one time believe that anything is possible, but then the one thing you felt was easily possible was suddenly deemed impossible? That moment is a pressure point for you as a writer since it then changed your perspective on life. Using that moment and how you now look at the world (because of that moment, either consciously or sub-consciously) informs how you approach creating characters in your scripts and stories. Your character's will have some form of an exaggerated version of your personal voice and past experiences. This is what makes you unique, because no one on the planet has the same experiences and therefore personal perspectives as you do. Use that!

Q: Flawed Hero? Does the hero or character need to be flawed in any and every genre? Say, in Horror or Action/Adventure, Thriller, Sci-Fi?

A: The quick and basic answer is, "Yes". The more extensive answer can, in a way, be asked with a question of, "How flawed do you want to make your character?" Look at Lethal Weapon, one of the most successful action/crime detective franchises of all time. Mel Gibson's character is extremely flawed, almost to the point of being unlikeable. He's a nutcase with extreme problems when it comes to dealing with a relatively horrific past which then has resulted in him having a difficult time allowing love in and thus loving someone else. This THEN leads to his erratic behavior, inability to be patient, and his belief that if a job needs to get done, he has to do it otherwise it won't be right. There are so many examples of characters in Sci-Fi, Horror, or Action/Adventure where a character is extremely flawed (don't get me started on Luke Skywalker!), but like I say in the coursework, a "flaw" doesn't mean the character is "bad" or handicapped. A flaw is whatever keeps a character from being the best version of himself, but not every flaw needs to act as a means to CHANGE the character, because, like I say in the coursework, your character doesn't need to flip from one end of the spectrum to the other. They don't need to change as much as Marlin in Finding Nemo changes, for example. Even Indiana Jones has a flaw, even though he doesn't really change during the course of the Jones franchise. When in The Last Crusade he is fighting a bunch of bad guys on a boat in the middle of the ocean (I believe it's one of the opening scenes), and he is trying to re-capture a silver and gold encrusted crucifix. In the middle of getting the crap kicked out of him, a rival adventurer comes along and steals back the precious item. What does Indy yell out? "That belongs in a museum!" There. Boom. That line, especially in his current state of affairs of basically about to be murdered and dumped into the ocean, says EVERYthing about his character. He has an extreme value system to the point of epic self-sacrifice. He will do quite literally anything and everything to fight for what he believes in, to stand up for what is right, and to save history from the bad guys. This flaw directly puts Indiana Jones into the middle of unbelievable (and unbelievably entertaining) situations, all the while ALWAYS acting from that state of his flaw - "this is right, and I don't care what you say about it". This could be broken down to being a know-it-all, blindly ambitious, the list of flaws goes on and on.

So does every character need to have a flaw? It isn't about "needing" to have one. They just do because they're human, they have a past, and that past dictates the character's world view and perspective, his beliefs, loves, intentions, and how he responds to any life situation. So yes. Your character needs to have a flaw, otherwise why are we putting him on screen? Why bother? Even the characters in Fast and the Furious have flaws, and those flaws are what make them human, relatable, and more enjoyable to watch…while they race fast cars and look physically amazing doing so.
Comment (3) Login to Reply privately Login to Report abuse
Thank you for the clarification - I always thought that flaw means bad. My question is: How do you find your childhood memories, if, due to trauma, many of those are lost. I agree that finding your own pressure points can be inspirational for the creation of unique characters.
Based on what I remember from my Bulgarian past, I created this logline:
A shy, conservative teenage girl sings her heart out in a US Broadway song contest/ audition, toppling down a reputed music diva.

Login to Reply privately Login to Report abuse
248 week(s) ago
Molly Alexander
Thank you, Max! You are an awesome teacher and speaker.
It feels like I'm in your classroom. I mean literally.
Login to Reply privately Login to Report abuse
247 week(s) ago
Thanks Max - good clear explanations. See you thursday night I hope!
Login to Reply privately Login to Report abuse
245 week(s) ago

To add a comment, please, log in first.