Screenwriting : Today's Wish and Creative Tip by Laurie Ashbourne

Laurie Ashbourne

Today's Wish and Creative Tip

Flawsome No matter how much you love your main character remember, nobody’s perfect. Perfect characters are boring – audiences respond to flaws, it makes characters relatable. Flaws don’t have to be fatal – sweetness, humbleness, and charity, or any trait carried to extreme, can be a flaw. Once the flaw is determined ask: What’s the worst situation he/she can find themselves in? Then: What would the first reaction be when the flaw is challenged and how can they turn that flaw into an asset when there’s no place else to turn? I love mashed up of words when they make sense; A flawsome individual is someone who embraces their flaws and knows they are awesome regardless. We should all be so lucky.

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Laurie- Good advice.

Crystal Wolfer

Mine has a few things that are perceived of as flaws by other characters

Laurie Ashbourne

Interesting, Crystal. But are there any actual flaws?

Crystal Wolfer

I went personal with them

Crystal Wolfer

A lot of the emotional wounds that I experience I gave him

Crystal Wolfer

I only went personal with the first 18 of so pages

Crystal Wolfer

My main character grows tougher and stronger

Laurie Ashbourne

Certainly, Peter. The issue more often is when a character is INTRODUCED as smart, tough, strong, what have you and then something external comes along to louse up their day but at the end of the film they go back to being smart, strong, tough, successful etc. When the flaw is something like the generosity of soldier having heart -- how could that hurt him (aside from getting him killed) the idea is to make that flaw be their downfall UNTIL it isn't and they turn it around as a strength.

Bill Costantini

In a lot of films, the protag's flaws aren't very visible, and not even a single element of it shows in the film. Those characters seem to be a little flat to me. It's almost as if the character is simply fulfilling the plot line of the film, and can even be interchangeable with another strong hero type. There's nothing wrong with that, and more power to them. However, I doubt that an aspiring scriptseller like myself will get many chances at selling spec scripts like that, since one of the first questions that producers ask me is "what makes your characters unique?" "Uh...cuz he's strong...and smart...and strong...and smart..." Character's "Warring Elements" are what make them unique. Emotions, attitudes and values deepen a character's humanity. Salvation and redemption are usually the result of some inner need, like a flaw that needs to be exorcised. Without paradoxes, a personality is pretty flat, and probably not very realistic nor relatable. How can you feel any sympathy towards such a perfect creature? Conversely, how can an audience member get those twisted messages in their brain to love/hate a villian like Lecter or Frank Booth if we don't feel some type of admration/sympathy/compassion for them? Quint in Jaws is a wonderfully well-rounded character whose tragic flaws - his own stubborness and stoicism - lead to his ultimate downfall. In Linda Seger's book, Creating Unforgettable Characters, she talks about how the "Shadow Side" of characters get them in trouble - like Fatal Attraction's Dan, a really nice guy on the surface whose deceitful, lustful and secretive side drives the film. In Dangerous Liaissons, Madame de Torville's secret desires drive her to Valmont, whose shadow side is ironically virtuous. What a great twist that is. Nice post, Laurie.

Laurie Ashbourne

Nice comment, Bill. I couldn't agree more with everything you wrote. Serving the plot/genre and not the depth of character gives us forgettable films.

David Levy

I love creating protag;s with flaws. How can a perfect protag ever grow or build character? I created a protag who has been bullied all his life and now has to deal with new super powers right before starting college. The psychological toll bullying took on his confidence and self esteem is greater than his belief in his new super powers. Even though he can take a punch, he still winces and cringes. "The Last Dragon" finding the Master kind of scenario. Only when he looks deep within himself, will he realize he does have the strength to be who he is really meant to be. We have all have some internal struggle.

Fiona Faith Ross

"flawsome". Love that.

Crystal Wolfer

My Protagonist develops resilience

Crystal Wolfer

Me too faith

Steven Morris

Well said. It's what I do every time but you've made it sounds so much better. Thanks!

Phil Parker

Hey Laurie - When I read your statement -- "A flawsome individual is someone who embraces their flaws and knows they are awesome regardless." -- I immediately thought of the romantic comedy genre, where that kind of arc seems to be more common. Whereas in some other genres, the audience usually expects the flawsome hero to become a better version of themselves by the end of the film, rather than just learning to accept their flaws. What do you think? btw - Hi! Long time no see :-)

Laurie Ashbourne

Hey, Phil - Thanks! As to your point, I think it's more obvious in a comedy, but it's often delivered with self-deprication. That, and the tone in which I've presented it, is pretty light. But part of any protagonists' arc (if the writer has succeeded in giving them one) is the ability to get out of their own way and take on the obstacles they face despite the ingrained beliefs/habits they lived by in the beginning of the story. I think I've said this before somewhere, but if a character believes strongly in something (or grasps tightly to a habit) there must be a time where that belief fails them, and in reconizing that, they are able to take the action that will see them through, because the change that happens at the end has to come from them not occur to them. Certainly dramas and action-adventures etc., have protagonists that 'wake up' and embrace the fact that they were approaching things all wrong. The films that Bill stated in his post are good examples of this.

Jack Middleton

Mine current one is far from perfect. ;-)

Crystal Wolfer

Oooooooooooooooh do tell Jack I'm intrigued

Jack Middleton

She is riddled with guilt over the death of her young daughter, she had an alcoholic father (he was somewhat of a town drunk) and she escaped the small town to join the National Guard. She has a tough exterior and is a stickler for rules that she has a hard time following. Just getting the script going, but it is something that I have been toying with for some time. I hope I can do it justice. :-)

Crystal Wolfer

Wow! You're doing an amazing job so I'm very intrigued and looking forward to seeing what comes next well done

Crystal Wolfer

Would it be ok if I sent you my script so you can look at it?

Jack Middleton

That would be fine. I would enjoy looking at it to give me some examples of how to write better. Thanks for the kind words - always appreciated.

Jack Middleton

Peter. Thanks for the question. She didn't actually plan on the escape (but she really fits in to the military lifestyle and will probably try to go active duty), but she was activated and is now in Iraq.... until some event gets her home..... I have most of the plot worked out so far.

Phil Parker

@ Jack - Hey mate, question - you mentioned in your post that your hero is "a stickler for rules that she has a hard time following." How is she a stickler for the rules while at the same time not following them? Is she incompetent despite her love of the military?

Jack Middleton

Well, not all the rules. She hides things like drinking. I think the way people are raised can either make them rebellious or they can go overboard, maybe due to the way 'they should be'. Not sure if I answered that, but my thoughts may not work.... I just kind of see it as part of her personal flaws. Let me know if it seems ridiculous in this context. I am going to reveal parts of her past as the story progresses, and I hope it seems to make sense.

Phil Parker

I think I get ya. Your hero is a rule follower as far as everyone can tell, but she has a hidden/ private/ flawed side that bends the rules, too. That's totally valid. About a dozen TV evangelists spring to mind ;-)

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Phil Parker- How's Peter? Have time to read a funny script? In the Mel Brooks style? only 16 pages. If you do. Show it to Peter also. Oh, And I don't mean to be rude to Laurie because it is her thread topic: I think characters need flaws wherever they come from. You have to have conflict in them whether internal or external. Just wanted to put in my 2 cents. But what do I know? I'm a novice screenwriter with a serious Mel Brooks/Woody Allen fixation that just wants to make people laugh. Oh well. Thank you Laurie, Thank you Phil and good night Peter whatever building you're dangling from this evening.

Phil Parker

@ Steven H.A. - Peter's busy but if you're looking for some feedback on your short script I'd be happy to help you out. Just DM me.

Phil Parker

Hey Steve, I'll send you an email. FYI - I'd delete your email from that post. Do you know about the peer to peer messaging you can do through Stage 32?

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

I did know about the peer-to-peer messaging but I thought it only worked if you were both in the same network and I did not know you could attach PDF files of scripts. But than again I am 63 years old and still a relative novice to computers and the internet in general. Before I started writing my script in August of 2014(not this 16 page one the other 96 page one). I had never sent an email or even owned a computer and social media not a clue. Look at me know WOW how my life has changed. Took your advice deleted my thread with the e-mail. I am sure your brother Peter would give the same advice.

Crystal Wolfer

Phil: would it be ok if I sent you my script so you could take a look at it?

Phil Parker

Hi Crystal, I've replied to your direct message :-)

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