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Why You Need To Write Flawed Characters

The art of crafting flawed characters is a practise that promises to bring value to your screenplay.

In this article, I’ll delve into the significance of why flawed characters are necessary and how this can be achieved in your own writing.

flawed characters / tropes in writing

1. Flawed Characters Spark Conflict

The essence of a captivating narrative often lies in the friction between the separate players in the story.

Introducing flawed and immoral characters ignites opposition and interpersonal conflict, which in turn develops into a compelling storyline. Take, for instance, Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network.”

Mark’s moral shortcomings and questionable decisions revolve around a lawsuit with ex-best friend and business partner Eduardo Saverin.

The story’s central themes lie in exploring ambition, betrayal, and the cost of success. All of these ideas cannot exist without the interpersonal conflict that is at play due to Mark’s flawed nature as a character.

In other words, Zuckerberg’s relentless ambition to create Facebook leads him to betray his friends and business partners, which provides the engine behind the whole narrative.

2. Flawed Characters Create A Need For Change

Flawed characters inject an essential ingredient into your script – change.

In the TV series “Fleabag,” the protagonist’s moral ambiguity is set up in the first series. 

Fleabag’s self-centred actions and choices bring her to rock bottom, which then sets up her ascension for the following series.

Fleabag’s imperfect decisions and actions create a dynamic interplay of relationships, adding layers of complexity to the narrative, which creates a need for her to change as the story progresses.

By embracing your characters’ flaws, you can introduce conflict and ensure that your story is filled with unpredictable twists and turns, keeping your audience engaged and invested in the unfolding drama.

emotional story flawed characters

3. Immoral Characters Bring Realism and Relatability

Imperfection is a mirror reflecting the complexity of human nature. A perfect example of this lies in “The Favourite”, which masterfully employs flawed characters to reflect a real historical account.

The film explores the intricacies of Queen Anne’s court and her relationship with two separate women, each of whom has their own nuanced flaws and immoralities.

At the heart of this conflict is a struggle over power. In centring this value, The Favourite tells a story that defines our selfish tendencies as human beings.

The Favourite Analysis Queen Anne flawed characters

The decision to write flawed characters is not merely a creative choice; it’s a strategic move to elevate your storytelling.

Look to characters like Mark Zuckerberg, Fleabag, and those in “The Favourite” as testament to the narrative power inherent in flawed characters.

Remember that imperfection isn’t a hindrance; it’s the key to unlocking the richness and authenticity of your characters and, by extension, your story.

Write boldly, embrace imperfections, and watch as your narrative comes to life with depth, complexity, and resonance.

Nick Fore Script Doctor / Script Consultant

Nick Fore is an experienced script consultant who reads screenplays for the British Film Institute.

He has written comprehensive coverage on over 1,000 scripts and has helped screenwriters get their work into development with production companies such as Imagine Entertainment and Screen Ireland. 

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