Writing Prompt: Kryptonite

For this week’s writing prompt:

Superman is invincible, except when he is in the presence of “Kryptonite,” an element from his home planet that has the power to weaken him.  In each of us, there are certain memories, phrases, and addictions that can cause us to crumple into our weakest selves.

Create a character in a story with a secret weakness. Think carefully about ways to contrast the inner “Kryptonite” identity with the external personality of the character.  In American Beauty, (spoiler alert) the military father hides his attraction for men from the world. His secret weakness is so unbearable to him, he kills to avoid it coming to light.  Our hidden weakness can be a dramatic motivator, luring us into the darkest place.  Or it can be a dream that takes us to the stars, as it does in October Sky, when a miner’s son dreams of being a rocket scientist but is too fearful to share his hope to escape the drudgery of his father’s life. Either way, the tension between the inner and outer sides of character will give you rich material.

The Desperate Man, 1845, by Gustave Courbet, courtesy of Wikipaintings

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