- Because that’s how life is.
- Because it’s naturally ironic.
- Because it will make overcoming those flaws something that’s not just hard to do, but hard to want to do.
- We’ll be less likely to get exasperated by the flaw, because we see the good side…
- …And it will makes us worry more about the hero, because we see that even his or her strength is a potential problem.
Let’s start with this excellent list of eleven great flaws (and accompanying examples) that was created by Carson Reeves a few months ago, and look at potential flip-side strengths of those flaws. Note that two characters with the same basic flaw can have very different flip-side strengths. A refusal to grow up, for instance, can be either paired with being fun-loving (Knocked Up), or with being sweetly innocent (The 40 Year Old Virgin), but not both.
Flaw: Puts work in front of family and friends (Zero Dark Thirty, Moneyball).
Possible Flip Side Strengths: Hyper-competent, Indefatigable, Loyal to clients, patients, bosses, partners, etc.
Flaw: Won’t let others in (Good Will Hunting, Drive, Up In The Air.)
Possible Flip Side Strengths: Tough, Honest, Self-deprecating
Flaw: Doesn’t believe in one’s self (Rocky, Luke in Star Wars, Neo in The Matrix, King George VI in The King’s Speech).
Possible Flip Side Strengths: Humble, Open-hearted, Careful
Flaw: Doesn’t stand up for one’s self – (Ed Helms’ in The Hangover. Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Marty’s dad in Back To The Future.)
Possible Flip Side Strengths: Nice, Sweet, Giving, Loyal
Flaw: Too selfish (Liar Liar Han in Star Wars, Murray in Groundhog Day, Zuckerberg in The Social Network)
Possible Flip Side Strengths: Zealous, Hyper-competent, Sarcastic, Funny
Flaw: Won’t grow up (Knocked Up. The 40 Year Old Virgin, Jason Bateman in Juno, the girls of Girls)
Possible Flip Side Strengths: Fun-loving. Innocent
Flaw: Too uptight, too careful, too anal (Carrey in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Garner in Juno).
Possible Flip Side Strengths: Careful, Hyper-competent
Flaw: Too Reckless (Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker, Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon, or Kirk on Star Trek.)
Possible Flip Side Strengths: Brilliant, Independent thinker, Aggressive, Effective risk-taker
Flaw: Lost faith (Father Karras in The Exorcist Mel Gibson in Signs)
Possible Flip Side Strengths: Self-aware, Rational)
Flaw: Pessimism/cynicism (Giammati in Sideways, James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams, Edward Norton in Fight Club)
Possible Flip Side Strengths: Funny, Bitingly honest
Flaw: Can’t move on (Carl in Up, Jon Favreau in Swingers.)
Possible Flip Side Strengths: Loyal, Sentimental