After going over the ways to make a character likable, I want to point out that your characters can and should be flawed. Every hero in a film needs to have experienced some trauma in their past that has caused them to react to the world in an unhealthy way. The experience that they will go through during their story-whether it is meeting the love of their life, accomplishing a career or personal goal, or changing the world-will heal this wound, teach them that they have to live life in a healthy way again in order to be fulfilled by accomplishing their goals.
We know from Storytelling 101 that a well-written script involves a protagonist with a goal who tries to accomplish this goal but faces opposition, which he or she eventually overcomes. Opposition comes in two forms-external and internal. The hero cannot accomplish their goal because the antagonist, circumstances, or forces of nature are preventing them from getting what they want. For example, in Shrek, Shrek cannot be with Fiona because she is betrothed to Lord Farquaad. This is the external opposition. But Shrek is also wrestling with his own internal obstacle. He lacks the confidence he needs to admit his feelings, and he has been hurt and rejected in his past for looking different, so much so that he has shut down and decided it’s better to be alone than to open up and face possible rejection. He is forced to overcome both obstacles before he can accomplish his goal, and finally be himself and live a full life.
In crafting your characters, delve into their past and determine what happened to them that made them the flawed, incomplete person they are today? This is usually something that happened in their childhood and deeply affected them. Write out that scene, in prose form, so you can fully explore their life before you put them into your screenplay. This event will most likely not be a part of your script, but it can and may come out in dialogue. Whatever it was, it has created in them a fear of doing the one thing that they will be forced to do in the climax of your story. Overcoming this fear is the only way they can accomplish their goal and achieve true happiness and an authentic life.
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