Can a nice guy at the end be a nice guy at the beginning?

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  • Can a nice guy at the end be a nice guy at the beginning?

    A nice guy goes after some treasure that he thought would be the key to his happiness. But he doesn't get it because of the antagonist but discovers he doesn't need it to be happy.

    The question here is the idea that the hero has to be flawed to be interesting. Or that he needs to be almost not very nice at the beginning so that he can evolve into a nicer person at the end.

    Can't a movie be interesting if it's about self-discovery or some other premise WITHOUT having a flawed hero? In "Up in the Air," the Geo. Clooney character really doesn't have any flaws did he? He was a nice guy at the beginning. regardless of what he did for a living, and he was a nice guy at the end.

  • #2
    Re: Can a nice guy at the end be a nice guy at the beginning?

    Not sure if this is considered a "flaw" but Clooney's character had an inner need for a companion, something he seemed to initially think he didn't want. I don't even remember how the movie ended for some reason...but remember he got the s^%$ end of the stick taking a chance on Vera Farmiga's character.
    One must be fearless and tenacious when pursuing their dreams. If you don't, regret will be your reward.

    The Fiction Story Room

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    • #3
      Re: Can a nice guy at the end be a nice guy at the beginning?

      Isn't your character's "flaw" his belief that he needs the treasure to be happy?

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      • #4
        Re: Can a nice guy at the end be a nice guy at the beginning?

        Totally what Todd said.

        - Bill
        Free Script Tips:
        http://www.scriptsecrets.net

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        • #5
          Re: Can a nice guy at the end be a nice guy at the beginning?

          Originally posted by wcmartell View Post
          Totally what Todd said.

          - Bill
          You mean the nice guy doesn't need a kill the cat moment?

          Midnite

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          • #6
            Re: Can a nice guy at the end be a nice guy at the beginning?

            Surely what your talking about here is 'character arcs'. When a character starts a movie they arc by the end of it. But I think you're looking at it way too simply.

            A character arc isn't just someone changing from a nice guy to a not so nice guy.

            Character arcs can be much more complicated than this, or sometimes very very subtle.

            You're thinking about it the wrong way.

            Also, bare in mind that not all characters arc. Sometimes they don't.

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            • #7
              Re: Can a nice guy at the end be a nice guy at the beginning?

              I think a script, and a character, can be whatever it needs to be. Rules are made to be broken. That said, making a flawed character learn and arc and change and grow is one of the most basic parts of screenwriting - and if you're skipping that, you'd better have a damn good reason and make sure the audience understands and is on your side for it. An arc can be subtle. And you can watch any television series and enjoy characters who are the same at the beginning as they are at the end. I usually feel that Hollywood films hit the arcs too hard in too short a running time and end up looking cliched and foolish.

              The reason characters arc is to make them compelling, and to make sure the audience is there with them every step of the way on a journey which feels meaningful. Sounds like you have a pretty standard plotline there which should fulfill most of your arcing requirements by itself. The protagonist learns something, his goals and expectations are confounded ... nothing rule-defying there. But make sure the character himself is compelling.

              We give characters flaws because none of us are perfect. You're thinking about this in a ridiculously black and white way. A nice guy can still be flawed. You might think of yourself as a nice guy, but you've got massive flaws all over the place. I don't even know you, but as a human being, there's no way you don't. That's what you're trying to write. In theory we learn and change and grow as people when we have a significant experience. You're trying to give the audience an intense, significant experience, and having it change and effect your lead is how you show that significance.

              It's like when you film a fight scene. It's not about the guy who punches - the intensity of a punch lives or dies on the performance of the guy who gets punched. It's about results.

              So keep it subtle, and know what it means.

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              • #8
                Re: Can a nice guy at the end be a nice guy at the beginning?

                Originally posted by Juno Styles View Post
                Not sure if this is considered a "flaw" but Clooney's character had an inner need for a companion, something he seemed to initially think he didn't want. I don't even remember how the movie ended for some reason...but remember he got the s^%$ end of the stick taking a chance on Vera Farmiga's character.
                See I saw it as the opposite. I saw it as people kept telling him how sad he should be that he was so lonely, so he tried having a relationship and discovered that there was nothing wrong with his life to begin with. His flaw was second guessing his choices and trying to live by other people's standards.
                Chicks Who Script podcast

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                • #9
                  Re: Can a nice guy at the end be a nice guy at the beginning?

                  POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR UP IN THE AIR Maybe it's in the eyes of the beholder. I saw George Clooney's flaw as being so cool, you could call it rootless detachment. He was charming and competent, a well-traveled man of the world with a girl in every port. Many, including him, would think of it as the perfect life, but once he fell in love with one of his flings -- wanted a stronger connection -- he realized he had no one he really cared about or who really cared about him, and that it was too late for him to turn his life around. He had made the wrong choices, and now he felt empty.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Can a nice guy at the end be a nice guy at the beginning?

                    Originally posted by emily blake View Post
                    See I saw it as the opposite. I saw it as people kept telling him how sad he should be that he was so lonely, so he tried having a relationship and discovered that there was nothing wrong with his life to begin with. His flaw was second guessing his choices and trying to live by other people's standards.
                    That's an interesting take on it, but when were people telling him how sad he should be? Was it his boss somewhere in the beginning? From what I remember he came to that realization himself as he and Vera's character got closer during his trip with the new girl or his replacement because he was super comfortable around her and dug the fact she was a female version of himself -- especially when she cut him off on the phone and said "Just think of me as yourself, except with a vagina." before he could give her the routine "Look, remember this is just a fling" BS. I saw that scene as him realizing at that point that he had been lying to himself about the way he felt for her. The way he kinda took it in after they hung up.

                    Originally posted by Joaneasley View Post
                    Maybe it's in the eyes of the beholder. I saw George Clooney's flaw as being so cool, you could call it rootless detachment. He was charming and competent, a well-traveled man of the world with a girl in every port. Many, including him, would think of it as the perfect life, but once he fell in love with one of his flings -- wanted a stronger connection -- he realized he had no one he really cared about or who really cared about him, and that it was too late for him to turn his life around. He had made the wrong choices, and now he felt empty.
                    Yea that's pretty much what I got out of it too. I don't remember him having a girl at every port though? Or the movie even giving that impression. I think Clooney's got so many admirers and that "cool" reputation in real life that he'd give that impression even if he was playing the hunchback of notre-dame.
                    One must be fearless and tenacious when pursuing their dreams. If you don't, regret will be your reward.

                    The Fiction Story Room

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                    • #11
                      Re: Can a nice guy at the end be a nice guy at the beginning?

                      Originally posted by Juno Styles View Post
                      That's an interesting take on it, but when were people telling him how sad he should be? Was it his boss somewhere in the beginning?
                      It was more implied than anything, but everyone sort of gave him these looks - pathetic, feel sorry for him face. But more than anything I think the new girl gave him a little grief. If I remember correctly, he was willing to let his lover go on with her life until somebody - the new girl, I think - convinced him to go get her. And when he got there - well, love isn't this magical fairy tale some would have us believe.

                      He really liked his job.
                      Chicks Who Script podcast

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                      • #12
                        Re: Can a nice guy at the end be a nice guy at the beginning?

                        Re: "Isn't your character's "flaw" his belief that he needs the treasure to be happy?"

                        I had a feeling this might come up.

                        But, T.K. and Bill M., how in the world would you show this?

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                        • #13
                          Re: Can a nice guy at the end be a nice guy at the beginning?

                          By writing him that way?

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                          • #14
                            Re: Can a nice guy at the end be a nice guy at the beginning?

                            Perhaps by showing his preference for material possessions over personal relationships.
                            "Writing is easy. All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead"... Gene Fowler

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                            • #15
                              Re: Can a nice guy at the end be a nice guy at the beginning?

                              Originally posted by socalwriter1 View Post
                              But, T.K. and Bill M., how in the world would you show this?
                              That's the trick, innit?

                              Watch The Social Network, or White Men Can't Jump, or any of the other movies where someone is motivated past the point of consequences by their desire for something. Their "flaw" is apparent in their actions.

                              I assume you know the plot of your movie; i.e. the things that happen. Figure out who your character is, how your character will react to those things, and by reacting, cause other things to happen. If you do it right, his "flaw" will be apparent in his actions.

                              Until he arcs. And then he'll behave differently. (Granted, from what I remember Woody in WMCJ doesn't actually learn his lesson, but you should be able to extrapolate how the ending would be different if he did.)
                              Last edited by Todd Karate; 05-05-2011, 08:44 AM.

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