I went to see The Grey recently starring Liam Neeson. I found it compelling and gripping despite it being about a group of undesirable men being picked off one by one by a pack of wolves – a premise that would be a hard sell to me on paper. In the days afterwards I tried to figure out what it was about the film that had gripped me – the landscape was utterly bleak throughout and I am not much of a wolf fan! I came to the conclusion it was because of the seven main characters, the survivors of a plane crash, flawed human beings that existed on the edge of decent society who were put in an extraordinary situation and who were stripped down to reveal their ultimate humanity.

Flawless is good when applied to a painting, someone’s complexion or perhaps a sporting achievement but not when we are talking about characters! We are all flawed. We all have short-comings which get us into trouble throughout our lives. These flaws are what we need to write about. We need to write about that moment in time when a father, a mother, a husband, a friend, a lover makes a choice determined by their character that starts a catalogue of events that become our story.

Our central characters need to have inconsistencies and imperfections that make them human and identifiable to an audience. So ask yourself what is your protagonists’ weak spot? Then tease it out so that it is responsible for an action that kicks starts and incites the motivation for the rest of your story.

The type of genre you are writing in will dictate the extent of flaw your character will have e.g if it is a ‘Tragic Hero’ story it will probably be ‘fatal’ and lead to his / her ultimate demise and death but if it is a Rom-Com, well then, it will be responsible for past and perhaps current doomed love affairs. Whatever flaws you give them is what is unique to your character – it is what makes them react in a certain way to a situation, it is the combination of all the elements of their personality type that makes a situation become their own personal tragedy or triumph.

 A flaw will form the basis for your character arc or journey that will be played out on screen. It will determine the actions taken throughout the story and drive the pace forwards because a characters problems / needs and desires will all be intractably linked to the flaws that have brought them to this point in the first place.  We need to either see your character learn from their mistakes and grow to a new status of understanding or else they need to be consumed by it and pay the ultimate price. A character that does not change and remains emotionally stationary throughout will not make an interesting protagonist, they will be boring to watch and will not provide enough conflict to sustain a story.  And that brings me neatly back to Liam and those wolves! At the start of the film he is a man who wants to die, he has lost someone he loves and has no reason left to live, throughout the film we watch as this man, who was so desperate for death he contemplated suicide, is the one man who fights hardest to live. 

 Remember an audience goes to the cinema for escape from their own mundane world and worries. They want to watch flawed human beings, who they can identify with be put in extreme situations where the stakes are high. It’s about life and death and everything in between. 

Closed for Writing!  -  17/6/2013

Revenant   -  12/6/2013

Blog Hopping  -  6/2/2013

Drafts? How many is enough?  -  5/2/2013

2 for 1  -  2/1/2013

NY PICK!  -  2/1/2013

Merry Christmas!  -  19/12/2012

Storyjack  -  10/10/2012

Onwards & Upwards  -  10/10/2012

LSWF 2012  -  5/9/2012

GRABBERS interview  -  5/9/2012

Book Festival  -  8/6/2012

TV Drama Writers' Festival  -  8/6/2012

Discontented Writer  -  17/4/2012

Galway Film Fair Deadline  -  6/4/2012

TITANIC 3D  -  4/4/2012

BBC NI Radio Drama  -  30/3/2012

Last chance...  -  28/3/2012

CH4 Shooting Gallery  -  23/3/2012

Flawless  -  8/3/2012

Scriptapalooza Competition  -  8/3/2012

Shoreline Competition  -  8/3/2012

Euroscript Competition  -  8/3/2012

BFI Short Film Comp  -  17/2/2012

SHAME  -  17/2/2012

Make them breathe!  -  31/1/2012

Short Films writing the screenplay  -  23/1/2012

 2012 BAFTA nominations  -  23/1/2012

 2 for 1!!  -  11/1/2012

The Iron Lady  -  9/1/2012

360 Festival Returns  -  6/1/2012

Happy 2012  -  6/1/2012

2012 Opportunities  -  6/1/2012

Bridesmaids - Worth its hype!  -  3/10/2011

27th June date for your diary!  -  3/10/2011

Liquid Lunch  -  3/10/2011

Writers' Festival  -  3/10/2011

Short Film Funding  -  3/10/2011

Behold The Lamb Closes BFF  -  3/10/2011

if you're not in, you can't win!  -  3/10/2011

Writers Academy in Belfast  -  3/10/2011

Back Swan  -  3/10/2011

Oscar Fever  -  3/10/2011

Deadline Extended!  -  3/10/2011

MAD!  -  3/10/2011

PRIMETIME!  -  3/10/2011

Max it competition  -  3/10/2011

Short Story Week  -  3/10/2011

Attention Screenwriters  -  3/10/2011

literary Festival  -  3/10/2011

Deadline Extension  -  3/10/2011

£5000 Treatment Award  -  3/10/2011

Top Tweets  -  3/10/2011

Salt - Too much is bad for you!  -  3/10/2011

Northern ireland Screen Short Steps  -  30/9/2011

Test Out Your Funny Bone  -  30/9/2011

Summer Madness  -  30/9/2011

Behold The Lamb  -  30/9/2011

Every script needs a crisis!  -  30/9/2011

Caragh Carville Interview  -  30/9/2011

Coming up 2011  -  30/9/2011

Dublin Writers Festival  -  30/9/2011

John Truby @ Raindance  -  30/9/2011

Kick Ass  -  30/9/2011

Scriptchat - Are you on it?  -  30/9/2011

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