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The Hungry and the Beautiful

a blog by Neharika Gupta

  • Writer's pictureNeharika

Writing Challenge Day 1: Navigating fatal flaw

Day 1 of 33

So begins my advent into my first ever writing challenge. It started with the search for a name for the main character of my next work. While that sounds easy enough, I want to give her name some meaning and weight, not just any name. I also have to live with the name the rest of my life, in case the work does end up getting published.

Before I could begin searching baby name sites, (trust me, all us writers have to do this), it turned out, I knew the general direction of the plot, but the story - I wasn't convinced I had her conflict down.

I started by writing down what I know about her and what I want her to accomplish by the end of the book. I already have a 2-3 page summary of the plot of the book, and I have to see where these to things align - the story (what the book is about) and the plot (what happens in the book).

Conflict, fatal flaw or Hamartia is something the protagonist of every story has to overcome by the end of the novel. I had some that she would be suited to, but not the right one. These flaws aren't just negative like arrogance or greed but can be positive as well like ambition or putting others before oneself. So I did go down the rabbit hole of the internet searching for some.

It wasn't easy, some sites were excellent but because I also might take my protagonist down the tragedy route, so while it was easy to find examples of self-sacrificing heroes like Harry and Katniss, I have a little more time to spend on the tragic hero. As I write this, Snape comes to mind. Also, a lot of information online about the Hero's journey, three act structure feature the positive hero.

I also want to get this right instead of the the plot driving the story. This is the crux of the novel and I feel it's important to identify and pursue what I feel in my gut.

The one concrete tragic hero I could find online was King Lear. So my day ended with watching a play on YouTube (translation on sparknotes open on the side). I have a complicated relationship with Shakespeare. I have been prejudiced against his work, as during my undergrad, he was popularly known as the David Dhawan of his generation, catering to the masses, where women would have their butts pinched while watching his plays. But that complication ends today. I am glad I found this.

I'm still watching it but what I feel is beautiful about the play, besides the language, is that even indecisiveness or an inability to express oneself is conveyed with depth and insight. Subtler emotions are given screen or stage time, thus elevating all aspects of the human condition to a heightened level, allowing us to live vicariously through the characters and have the experience of catharsis.


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