Good evening folks, well evening for me. It’s 22:24 here in London. I was just thinking, (primarily because I’m on the brink of writing my first feature length script following a long prep stage). What makes good character?
I’ve recently finished reading Syd Fields ‘Scriptwriter workbook’ and I dig it, it’s given me a lot of incite. However, even after reading the chapter on character, I still find myself debating what character really is. I always have, I mean I’ve written a lot of stuff, some with good characters some with bad. Syd considers that good character involves a unique point of view, attitude, dramatic need and transformation. I get confused with the difference of POV and attitude, but he says it doesn’t really matter, whatever comes to you is what’s right.
I used to think that character comes from back-story, you know we are the people we’ve grown up to be, the things that have happened to us have defined us, as people. I think this is right, I can look back and say I’m like that because of this. But I mean shit, being able to sit down and tell someone exactly who this character is, and understanding how they react to every given situation thrown at them is a tough cookie. Being able to understand someone just from their background is difficult, you kinda have to wing it.
Character is what a story is about in my eyes, it’s not about plot, it’s about character, who they are, what they want and where they’re going. The plot is just something bigger they embody. I sit here writing thinking I cannot as a writer, start this script without absolute clarity on this.
Then I thought, maybe character is about dramatic need, maybe the character is in that, a lot can be read into a dramatic need from a glance, but in hindsight it’s probably completely wrong, but I think really understanding their dramatic need and why they want this is because of their back-story. So I find that tracing back from their dramatic need why it’s their dramatic need is how we can find character. No one ever said writing was a stroll in the park, but god damn, this shit’s gonna kill me at forty. But like I always say, happiness is in the journey, not in the destination. Whatever you find is what’s right, it just takes a lot of writing and exploration.
What do you think makes good character?