Are you ready to write a hero with an Achilles heel that really gives them a fatal flaw? Character flaws are personality defects that prevent your main character from achieving their goals and character growth. Flaws are often symptoms of earlier painful experiences which left emotional scarring.
Let’s explore the main types of character flaws seen in screenplays.
Sometimes characters may be aware of their flaw, or they simply don’t think that it is a serious flaw. Other times they are aware, but believe that it justifies their actions. Some flaws are so deeply engrained in your characters that they form part of their identities. So much so that can’t address it.
There are the main types of character flaws you can use in your screenwriting to really make your main characters stand out. Because addressing these flaws form part of your character arc.
This is manifested as constant belittling or criticizing of oneself. An example is the class clown who desperately tries to fit in with nasty jokes directed at themselves.
It is often a result from a severe lack of self-esteem.
This flaw is more serious and is manifested either by conscious self harm (such as drug and alcohol addiction) or sub conscious self sabotage (such as breaking a diet or subconsciously destroying relationships.)
This is often a result of a deep seated inadequacy and self hatred. They don’t feel they deserve any better in life.
This is manifested in various ways including the main character accepting blame for somebody else’s misdeeds on undue blame or other act of self sacrifice for the greater good. Such characters are often taken advantage of because their desire of fitting in is greater than that of self preservation.
This is often a result of your main character not being able to set reasonable limits, mainly due to poor self esteem and feeling unloved.
This character flaw manifests as a strong resistance to change. They are often portrayed as strong willed characters who are afraid of progress and the unfamiliarity of the future. Despite their irrational demands to control their environment, they often won’t change, even if it brings benefits to their lives.
It is often a result of fear of change and facing unknown challenges.
This is an egocentric character flaw where they have a pathological desire to acquire far more than is necessary. Think of the wall street banker or the glutton.
Greed is a flaw resulting from a profound sense of deprivation. It could also stem from an emotional scar from times of poverty, or a sense of inadequacy.
This egotistical character flaw manifests as an unreasonable exaltation of self worth.
Paradoxically, it often masks poor self esteem caused by how a character is perceived by their family, friends, peers and community at large.
This manifests as a strong belief that everyone and everything is obstructing your main character’s goals. This causes intense frustration and discomfort. An example is the driver stuck in heavy traffic while running late to an important meeting.
It stems from a desire to control oneself and their environment.
This manifests as extreme reworking or repetition of an action with the sole aim of making it perfect.
This flaw stems from an extreme fear of failure and the need to control one’s environment.
This manifests as a person who is eternally in a state of bliss. Not just happy, but unnaturally peaceful and ecstatic.
This often seen in movies about cults and stems from a failure to accept the realities of the world. Also it stems from a deep desire to belong to a safe group that understands you.
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