Extraordinary AND Relatable?

Sep 24, 2015 by

Can a character be both? How do you make a super powered hero in extreme circumstances relatable?

Extraordinary AND Relatable

Something in an interview with author Jackie Morse Kessler has really stuck with me:

When I wrote that book, I knew it was going to be about a girl with anorexia who happens to become Famine, and not a girl who becomes Famine who happens to have anorexia.

(The full interview)

That is the key. No matter a character’s amount of power, high IQ or status as a prophesied hero they can be made relatable by you focusing on making them real characters first.


It’s the difference between Superman and Spiderman.


Superman is fun to watch but we can’t relate to most of his problems; that’s because most of his problems center around an alien past or saving the world.

Whereas Spiderman is a real person with real problems first, who when he gets powers reacts to them in a realistic way, using them for personal gain, and through mistakes becomes a hero.


It’s all in the faults; look at Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes

He’s definitely not one of us, but problems like his drug abuse and that his gift is sometimes a curse make him seem human again after he’s done a superhuman string of deduction.


Internal struggles are probably the most relatable.

Extraordinary AND Relatable? - Can a character be both?

My brother has a character who’s as extraordinary as they come but I relate to his internal struggle with being alone from devoting his life to one thing, it feels similar to how I lock myself alone in my room and write all day.


In conclusion: We often build rapport through empathy, when we feel what they do. First they have to feel real, then their struggle does.

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