Posted by: steveonfilm | October 10, 2011


One of the challenges of becoming a better screenwriter is getting better at developing your characters. I mean, think about it… the first few times we start out writing scripts we concentrate on structure and story. Hopefully, after a few tries, we start to get a hang of that. Then we might move on to dialog. Pacing. Act turns. Other mechanical aspects of the foundation of a screenplay.

After a while we get a mature understanding of structure and mechanics. We won’t be experts. We might not get any better. But we’ll have reached our educational limits of the more procedure aspects of screenwriting. Our attention will need to move to something else. Something more organic. Something that will separate a mechanically sound but lacking screenplay from a good screenplay. Something like character development.

Character development is something I’ve been working on for my past few scripts. It’s not that my characters are bad. I mean, they’re not great and certainly need work, but they’re not horrible. However, character growth is what’s going to keep a reader, and hopefully a viewer, interested and hooked. It’s something you need to be rock solid on if you’re going to play with the big boys.

What I’ve tried to do thus far is concentrate on what’s called the “fatal flaw.” In the traditional sense, this is something wrong with the protagonist that could lead to their downfall. Over the course of the story, they’re only able to overcome what their facing by overcoming their fatal flaw. Sometimes it’s before the final showdown. Sometimes it’s during. Sometimes the villain itself is a manifestation of the fatal flaw. But the character development happens as the protagonist builds up to facing their challenge.

The “fatal flaw” isn’t the only way to foster character development, but it’s a method that can be used to help you get a start. I’ve found it’s worked for me so far, though I’ve got a long way to go on my quest to get better. For more information on the “fatal flaw” you can check this article at the Writer’s Store.

Keep writing!


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