clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Good Defense

At left, US soldiers examine fortifications of the Maginot Line. This particular fortification was built in 1932. For those whose history is fuzzy, the Maginot Line was a series of emplaced fortifications stretching the boarder between France and Germany. The purpose of the deign is obvious.

I love characters with thick defenses. I love it when those defenses are breached.

Smiley, LeCarre's spymaster, has a formidable dose of logic and dispassionate outlook though he is nearly defenseless when it comes to his sometimes wife. That gap in armor is delightful.

Many characters in the crime genre have some weakness: some dark past haunting them. What I like most are those whose past doesn't merely haunt them, it provides an expressway into their psyche.

I like it when that expressway is available to readers and we travel it to see their breakdowns.

I don't like Superman.

Kryptonite is his weakness and no one manages to put half a dozen bullets of the stuff into his head. Yawn. Some villain Luthor turns out to be.

Batman? Now there is a guy with problems I can get behind. Women, geographic locations, the turn of a phrase, little kids ... the guy has enough screws loose to open his own hardware store. Villains exploit his weaknesses. Friends exploit them. Women. Alfred, even.

Sure he's a hero archetype. Sure he has big muscles and beats guys up in some twisted scheme of vengeance. Oh yea - code against killing. I hear you. You're missing my point.

Even the code against killing is a weakness. The guy is just a bag riddled with holes. (no pun intended, Riddler fans).

I like the sort of hero who gets gut punched by a 12-year old and feels it. I like to see him knocked down. I like to see the boy scout kicked right out of him.

Then, I like to watch him get up.

Superman - well. He has to protect us because we're pathetic worms who can't do the job ourselves.

Batman? He's one of us. Flawed. Insecure. He's not even as emotionally tough as your Aunt Millie. 

But he has one thing going for him.

He get's back up. Every time. No matter the cost, he gets back up.

I love that in a character.

I hope the readers I'm writing for like it too. Speaking of which, I better go write.

So should you. Watch your flanks.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Batman is definitely the more interesting character!

I like flawed characters. My problem is that sometimes I step over the line and my protagonists are *too* flawed. I have to work at making them likable.

jack welling said...

Nothing but trouble!

I too pass out too many emotional chainsaws!

party in!