Why Do Flawed Characters Self Sabotage?


It is a screenwriter’s duty to explore the characters in their screenplays in depth. Especially if they’re flawed, because they make more interesting characters with potentially stronger character arcs. Character flaws are limitations or imperfections that prevent characters from achieving their story goals. A character becoming aware of their flaws forms the basis of their character arc and a deeper understanding of themselves.

Some psychologists believe all human behaviors are driven along a LOVE-FEAR continuum. Fear and other negative character traits are motivated by unresolved traumas other experiences.

Fears are not necessarily only a main tenet of horror movies. Characters across all genres are afflicted with some fear which drives their flaws. Extreme fears may lead to phobias which require treatment.

These fears for the basis of many character flaws. Use one or two them in your characters to give them a wound that needs healing during the course of your screenplay.

Check out some sub-conscious fears that  can inhibit your main characters from achieving their goals.

Consider how these fears can be used to enhance your screenwriting.

  • Fear of being beautiful
  • Fear of being embarrassed or shamed or blamed
  • Fear of being judged
  • Fear of being trapped
  • Fear of change
  • Fear of conflict
  • Fear of death
  • Fear of deprivation (pleasure, favorite food, etc.)
  • Fear of disappointing themselves or loved ones
  • Fear of disease
  • Fear of failing
  • Fear of losing friends/ isolation
  • Fear of losing friends/ material goods
  • Fear of losing one’s identity
  • Fear of not being able to stick to a plan (self-judgment)
  • Fear of not being loved/ rejection
  • Fear of not fitting in
  • Fear of not knowing what to do
  • Fear of not looking good if I lose a lot of weight
  • Fear of pain
  • Fear of performance (sex, sports etc.)
  • Fear of poverty
  • Fear of public speaking
  • Fear of succeeding
  • Fear of the extra attraction
  • Fear of things staying the same
  • Fear of uncertainty/ unknown
  • Fear of worthlessness

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