Screenplay writing is all about three major components – PLOT, THEME and CHARACTER. The following are notes on writing for CHARACTER and getting the best out of your script.
What makes a good character?
1) DRAMATIC NEED – What does he/she want, is going to get or going to achieve?
2) POINT OF VIEW – Ways the character views the world3) ATTITUDE – Manner of opinion
4) CHANGE – Characters must change
FILM IS BEHAVIOR
The purpose of dialogue in screenplay writing
-Moves story forward
-Communicates facts and information to the reader
-Establishes character relationships
-Makes your chracters real, natural and spontaneous
-Reveals the conflicts of the story and characters
-Reveals the emotional states of your characters
-Comments on the action
“I find that when I am working on a screenplay I become like an antenna and suddenly, somewhat like a paranoid-schizophrenic, everything relates to my screenplay: a mentioned recipe, a joke somebody tells, a billboard that I see. It all becomes grist for whatever screenplay I’m working on.”
– WESLEY STRICK, Screenwriter (Cape Fear, Wolf, True Believers, Arachnophobia
The CHARACTERS’ EMOTIONS define them as who they are; how they respond to things
EMOTIONS FALL INTO FOUR CATEGORIES
Mad, sad, glad, scared
Make sure to check out WILDsound’s Screenplay Festival where you can submit your script and get it read in front of hundreds of industry people at http://www.wildsound.ca
THE MAIN CHARACTER NEEDS A GOAL
CHARACTERS – need motivation – action – goals – a direction
If you don’t know why a character is doing something, then it’s tough for the AUDIENCE to get involved in the story and tough for you to sell and produce your screenplay.
IN ORDER FOR A GOAL TO FUNCTION WELL, IT HAS TO HAVE THREE MAIN REQUIREMENTS
1) Something must be at stake that convinces the audience that a great deal will be lost if the main character doesn’t obtain the goal. Essential to the character’s well-being.
2) Opponent – attaining the goal is not easy because someone else is intent on making sure the protagonist (main character, usually) doesn’t achieve it.
3) Goal difficult to achieve so that the character changes while moving towards it. TRANSFORMATION – It will make demands of him. Character allows those changes to happen.
Characters FIGHT, SCRAP, ARGUE, PERSAUDE and try to force their point of view, their decisions, their actions on people who don’t see things the same way.
INNER CONFLICT – Characters are unsure of themselves, or their actions, or even what they want. Can express through voice-over, and through talking with someone else.
SOCIETAL CONFLICT – Character is against a GROUP of people who represent society (political group, team, town leaders).
SITUATIONAL CONFLICT – Something happens suddenly. How to handle it – panic, become a leader. Could be a personal situation.
COSMIC CONFLICT – The character VS the supernatural force
Conflict is always used. It expresses power plays, disagreements, different points of view, different attitudes and philosophies and different overall objectives
Characters have attitudes about life. They take a stand about things.
ACTION is divided into two parts, the decision to act and the act itself
It is the job of the main character to drive the story forward with her actions.
She can SEARCH, INVESTIGATE, UNCOVER, OUTWIT, PLAN STATEGY, TRANSFORM OTHERS AND THEMSELVES, CREATE NEW ENVIRONMENTS, MANIPULATE, AVENGE THE RIGHT AND WRONG
“I think the first thing you should do before writing a screenplay is to sit down and write a biography of that person.”
– LAWRENCE KONNER, Screenwriter (Jewel Of The Nile, Star Trek VI, Beverly Hillbillies)
“One of the big things you have to learn is who to listen to and when; and you can’t listen to everybody.”
– AMY HOLDEN JONES, Sceenwriter (Indecent Proposal, Mystic Pizza)