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Monday, June 28, 2010

Fatal flaw

"Aristotle knew a thing or two about writing. He pointed out that drama came from a 'reversal of fortune.' And this was created by the character's 'fatal flaw.' Shakespeare was even better at this stuff than Aristotle. Just take a look at the stunning collection of flawed heroes that he has bequeathed to us. Macbeth, who is undone by his ambition. Othello, who is undone by his jealousy. Carefully placed weaknesses are from where all the drama comes. Having battled odds to achieve great things, the hero is undone by his own self."
"I am yet to sit in on a channel discussion where we explored the weakness of the main character. And yet, if you look at it, the fatal flaw is really what drives the story and creates all the situations. If the character is flawless, then all the tension will be external. Unless the character has a flaw that forces her to interact/ react with circumstances, she will actually be a bystander in her own story. People will do things to the character – exploit, suppress, be cruel. And the character will endure it all – but will have no fundamental change. Sounds familiar? Recognise all the long-suffering soap heroines whose main heroic characteristic seems to be the ability to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune?"
"Go where few soap writers have gone before! Define a flaw for your character. And see how that suddenly brings her to painful human life."
(Venita Coelho in 'Soap! Writing and surviving television in India,' p. 49 Harper)