So my current assignment with ScreenCraft is essentially a character sketch. Just fleshing out some backstory in order to create characters that are multidimensional. Nobody likes a flat character. If we want a solid story, then we need solid characters.
I don’t mind doing very brief character sketches…the type that reads like an old school AOL chatroom: ASL (for you youths out there this means Age, Sex, Location). I might describe a bit of how they might look and how they dress. I’ve never really gone beyond the surface of my characters. It’s served me well in the past.
What would happen if I pushed deeper than that? I’ve never really tried. I’ve never thought about what my characters’ parents would be like, or what school was like when they were younger. I’ve never wrote out what their favorite meals would be. Or their favorite movie.
Why wouldn’t I want to do this? To really bring these characters to life I would need to know these things. Instead, I go flat and allow them to present themselves to me as I write. Again, it’s served me well in the past. Yet, I wonder how much richer their dialogue might be if I really knew them. I wonder how much deeper their reactions to things I throw at them would be if I knew how they would react if they were someone in real life.
I know why I react to things certain ways because I know my backstory. I know why my fiancee reacts to things certain ways because I know her backstory. We should love our characters as we love the people in our lives. We know everything possible about those we love and we should apply that same way of thinking to our characters.
So, here’s to creating real backgrounds for my characters. Even the small players in the story. Here’s to knowing the details about our characters from scars to first heartbreak to education to favorite scent to…everything.
I’m a little late to share this news. I found out Friday night while celebrating my nephew’s sixth birthday that I am one of the three winners of the 2015 VirginiaScreenwriting Competition.
This is one of those things that you didn’t realize you really wanted it until you actually got it.
I needed this because somewhere along the line I lost that belief in myself that I could write something worth filming. Though it is a small competition it is still a good barometer of sorts that I can write a great story. I can compete with my peers and I can see that when stacks against them…I can hold my own as a writer.
I had an idea creep up on me. I lowered that plastic tray off the back of the seat in front of me, pulled out my notebook and pen, and began writing. I hand wrote only a few scenes but really may have stumbled upon a good story. The story came to me while listening to a Lucinda Williams song called “Get Right With God.”
I’m not a religious person, far from it. Perhaps that’s why the scene came to me and is severely so far from getting right from God that a character could get. Opening scene is a character living in a desolate area, obviously not having a pot to piss in so to speak, who is confronted by his past in the form of a pistol at the back of his head. We know not what he has done, we know not of what the person holding the pistol is there for exactly…but I can see this scene so clearly in my head playing with this song kicking off the opening credits after the short open.
I’m piecing together my handwritten story now and I’ll transfer it soon to MM and post it here. Maybe I’ll get lucky and get a comment on the style and the story and see if this thing could have legs.
she finally read my script the other night (the one that made it to the finals). She loved it and even had some great notes/ideas for me that I’ll try out when I crack open the re-write.
It’s nice having a partner who bounces ideas back with me while laying in bed. She’s not a writer and I think that’s more helpful. She sees things as a viewer…as one of my audience members. That’s probably more valuable than most notes I could get because she’s the singular version of the masses I want to write for.
Anyways, it was nice to talk about my script with her and get her reaction to it. She tried to talk to me about it the other night when she first read it but I was in the midst of being asleep and being awake and was completely useless.
She said she got goosebumps and even cried at certain points. That’s a good thing!