November 20, 2013

On being flawed.

I've been reading a lot about screenwriting and character developing and all of that stuff that goes into making a fantastic work of art--book or screenplay--and the things that resonate with me are never the plots. I've been learning more than my brain can physically handle right now. Since I'm not going to get a C in my math class, which is the grade I need to continue onward with math (oops), I've been using those precious two-and-a-half-hours to read up on screenwriters. Learn the tricks of the trade, you know? Granted, I don't take any notes in class, but I've been extremely productive, considering my professor loses me about halfway through the first equation he writes on the board. SO I MEAN WHAT ELSE AM I SUPPOSED TO DO.

 Brevity is the soul of wit! And be careful with the format! 110 pages if you want to write a screenplay people will read! Plot is important; character development is crucial. But not too many characters! And don't have too few, either!

And do you want me to let you in on a little secret of the biz?? I learned something really fascinating about characters. They're useless in a story without flaws. Let me break it down for you. EHEM.

Draco Malfoy.
Perfect. He's always perfect. In every scene (I didn't read the books, so I will only refer to him in terms of the movie, no judgement.)(While we're at it, I should tell you that I didn't read The Hunger Games, either.) his hair is perfectly quaffed. He's constantly in pristine condition. He's got biting remarks that sting Harry. And don't you hate him? It's because there aren't any flaws written into his character! One dimensional! But remember toward the end of the series when you sort of kind of start to like him? Why? Because he becomes a real human being with weaknesses. Turns out his weakness was his family that he would literally do anything for. Fascinating, right?

And why do we love Indiana Jones?
Obvious answers: Because he's brave. Because he's smart. Because he's handsome. And also because he has a large issue with snakes. The guy doesn't touch them. Why do we love that? Because it's a contradictory character flaw. Something we can relate to.

On Sunday, I was sitting there watching The Walking Dead, trying to put my finger on why exactly it was that all of a sudden, The Governor comes back, and I'm like YEAH THE GOVERNOR THREE CHEERS FOR HIM BEING ALIVE. It was confusing because he is solely responsible for the slaughtering of mass amounts of people. So why do I love him? Oh yeah. Because you throw a little girl into his mix and he becomes like this completely adorable father figure who only cares about the safety of his child. And we live for that crap!


The Godfather: Why does the audience feel compelled to pay attention to Don? Oh, because even though he's a mob boss, he's stroking a cat, showing his delicacy and slow-moving fingers. We like that. Even if he is terrifying, I MEAN COME ON, THERE'S A CAT!

Seriously, think about your favorite movie characters. And test this out.

+Leonardo DiCaprio's character, Dominick Cobb, from Inception. Brilliant man. Architect. Genius. Can do, basically anything with a little dream sequence. Until Mal is made aware of him. And then, boom! Weakness. He can't do anything.

+Winnie the Pooh: Honey. Poor bear can't get anything done with a jar of that stuff lying around. Weakness. Bet you've never thought of honey as an antagonist before, have you?

+Harry Burns from When Harry Met Sally: He's a romantic, but also incredibly cynical. For some reason we like that in a person. It balances him out.

+Sally Albright: Beautiful. In shape. Engaging. Intelligent. We like her because she's a neat freak with control issues. We like that because we're neat freaks with control issues.

Are you getting the point?

Well, anyway, this stuff fascinates me! What makes us attractive to other human beings? OUR FLAWS?! No. Can't be. BUT YES! It all makes sense! I've got this weird attraction to men who need saving. It's all in the flaws, I'm telling you! So, I started charting my own character flaws in an attempt to write some realistic characters, and I'd love to read about your own weaknesses. Is that allowed? Can I request that? HELP ME. What makes you a good character?


  1. THIS IS IMPORTANT. I love this post so so so so much. I've been thinking about this a lot as I've been working on my novel this month (Flaw number one. This phrase always sounds so so douchey. I'm not a douche I promise). My characters all start out so perfect but then when they get flaws in them, I love them. Before, they are statues and they are boring and solid.

    My flaws? I fall too quickly. I'm too forgiving and too romantic. I romanticize things that hurt and always walk back into them, even when I know I will be hurt. I have a crippling fear of ending up alone. I fear failure to the point of paralysis. I love too deeply too early. Also my thighs are flaws. So. There's that too.

    Thank you for continually inspiring the writing bug inside of me.

    ALSO QUESTION. So, I got a job on my school literary journal and we are looking for submissions of poetry/short little narratives. I love your work and would love to include your work in the magazine. If you'd be interested in this at all, shoot me an email and I can get you some more information :) :)

    Tightrope to the Sun

  2. I read an article recently about a study that gave evidence that people are more likeable in general when they are open about their flaws. It made total sense. I thought of this one person who was brought into my life through...we'll just say obligation. And I've really struggled with them. After reading that article, I realized it was because this person was the kind of person who doesn't show their flaws or talk about their insecurities. Then they were injured and got all loopy from medication and I sincerely enjoyed their company for the first time ever.

    I'm not saying I support recreational drug use. What I'm saying is, I agree! And this is such a good point.

    My flaws...I'm lazy. I tend to cut myself off from the outside world. I'm self-righteous. Flaky. I'm self-conscious and usually assume that people think the worst of me when, in all reality, they're probably too busy thinking about what I think about them. I dream more than I do. And a lot more things, okay?!

  3. I take myself too seriously sometimes. But I feel like that's not a flaw people would appreciate... It's more annoying. Oh no! What about a character whose flaws are just annoying?!?!?!

  4. I give up everything for the people I love.Even if it's extreme, too soon and so so wrong.I think too much and cry too much.I'm impulsive, and interacting with human beings is still a struggle for me.I don't talk about my feelings instead I keep it all cropped up inside.And the list goes on.xx
    dreaming is believing


i like words. and you. write me a few?