The Creative Spark! – Know Thy Foe

I dread analyzing classics. Where do I begin? One of our own Voice writers gave clues: notice the writing tricks that tickle you and the transitions that flow. So, I had a starting point.

Yet I stubbornly wanted to study the classics from the scriptwriting point-of-view: scenes, characters, and, if not starring Adam Sandler, themes. In trying to grasp the classics, I focused on character traits: strengths and flaws.

The complexity of characters blindsided me. Consider a stranger’s vendetta against an entire family’s loved ones. What kind of a person feels vile toward his enemy’s grandma’s friend’s pet rabbit? Vindictive people, so I discovered.

According to The Negative Trait Thesaurus, vindictive people have bloated egos—even personality disorders. Their rage flares with tiny insults. They seek vengeance not only on their enemy, but on their enemy’s loved ones—even pets. And by spreading rumors, they convince bystanders to help assail the foe.

Vindictive souls might write kids’ books, too. A vindictive author covers his conscience with tales of carnage wielded by cute kittens. Or rape done by harmless raccoons. Yet, the vindictive person’s “actions, instead of vindicating, actually lump him in with his aggressors” (Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, p. 237 or 252).

Character flaws amaze me—real or fictional. Identify a character flaw, and you’ll recognize friends, enemies, family—even yourself. As flawed humans, we seek to self-improve. So, know thyself to grow thyself. I discovered myself when reading The Negative Traits Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I’m oversensitive and insecure. As for my oversensitive side, I cry when teased, and I dwell on the past. But I show deep compassion, kindness, and loyalty to loved ones.

As for my insecure side, I shy away from undressing in locker rooms. I stopped attending family gatherings for feelings of inadequacy. Plus, I squabble with pushy people, which explains my lifelong feud with a loved one.

I used to think people would change. They don’t. We can only change ourselves. But how do we overcome our flaws? Through accepting—but not getting dragged into—our flaw’s trappings.

According to the Negative Trait Thesaurus, to overcome oversensitivity, I could meditate, use positive self-talk, and role-play healthy responses. To overcome insecurity, I could lower expectations of myself, set realistic goals, and accept flaws as “part and parcel of who [I am] and what makes [me] unique” (p. 129 of 252). Yes, our flaws help define us. But you likely have flaws very different from mine.

Most everyone wishes for the perfectionist or workaholic flaws. But sometimes we’re cursed with the worst. As a teen, I once schooled with a female flawed with “evil.” She despised my friend, a beautiful Christian athlete. So, this evil-doer stalked and assaulted her, invaded her home. The evil-doer’s purpose seemed to be to terrorize her, to make her scream. It was like she wanted to feel aroused by my friend’s blood, to possibly kill her. Bloody noses shut-up the students; slashed winter-tires cowered the staff.

During that time, I lifted weights in the school gym each morning. My Christian friend joined me, but the evil-doer and her gang found us out and assaulted us. Later, when I mustered the courage to return, the gym doors were locked.

People flawed with evil “seek out good wherever it exists and destroy it” (p. 82 of 252). So, know thy foe to protect your soul—and to write the classics.

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