Writing Exercise

Hamlet Versus Chuck Norris
If the last example from the previous exercise (“a successful politician with a profound sense of personal inadequacy and chronic anxiety”) sounds familiar, that is because this roughly describes the character of Hamlet, if you substitute successful politician with Prince.

So why has the character of Hamlet endured for more than 400 years, while all the action heroes from Hollywood movies of the last twenty-five years simply blend together into a generic blend of punches and one-liners?

Flaws. Flaws make a character more human, and more relatable. When an action hero triumphs, we may cheer, but with the same investment with which we cheer our favorite sports team. When Hamlet hesitates, contemplates, fails, we hesitate, contemplate, and fail with him, because through the alchemy of literature,we are Hamlet.

For your next writing assignment, write a story about a character who attempts heroism and fails. Or wishes to become a hero, but faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles within himself.

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