All memorable and successful stories have one thing in common. They all have memorable characters that have become part of our culture. In film, or in any fiction/non-fiction, the best stories are told within the context of human relationships; it is not so much what happens that affects us, but what happens to whom.
Great stories are about characters we care about. Characters who embody our emotions and, at some level, even our thoughts? People who are caught up in events, and have to make difficult decisions and choices which affect other people.
Timeless stories are about characters making choices and forming commitments to each other in difficult circumstances and what these characters are willing to do to keep their commitments; it is through commitments a character makes and struggles to keep we find out who the character really is.
Before you put a word to paper, you must know the character. It is through characters that audiences/readers experience emotions, through the characters they are touched deeply.
Your aim as a writer is to:
- Create full-bodied, three-dimensional characters who will move the story forward with skill and clarity.
- Create characters an audience/readers want to spend time with
- Create heroes, anti-heroes, villains, and every complicated variation of human nature in between
- Characters the audience/readers will want to join on a journey both foreign and familiar.
- Characters in situations the audience recognize
- Characters who are the audience and readers’ agents in the fictional world, act out their desire for romance, revenge, retribution, for control.
Character is the essential foundation of your story.
It is the heart, soul, and nervous system of your story.
The Write Journey explores:
- The Protagonist – It’s the primary character in your story or the leading character in the drama, the person or being around whom the primary goals of the plot are formed, and who must carry the goal of the plot. Developing a relatable, dynamic, and multi-dimensional protagonist and creating an emotionally compelling protagonist makes the story infinitely more engaging for an audience/readers; without this, not even the cleverest and most inventive premise or storyline will keep them totally engaged.
- The Antagonist, and Antagonistic forces – The antagonist is the character that acts against and causes the greatest change in the protagonist and embodies the sum total of all forces that oppose the protagonist’s will and desire. Antagonistic Forces work against your characters and force them to make choices and act: In Leaving Las Vegas, the Antagonistic Force is alcoholism: it drives the character to drink himself to death; in Tony Kaye’s American History X the antagonistic force is racism; and drug addiction is the Antagonistic Force in Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem For A Dream.
- The Villain – Villains aren’t always the antagonists — often, but not always — and antagonists aren’t always the villains. Villains are defined as “evil” characters intent on harming others. There are 15 types of villains in cinema, television, and literature — types that can be blended into whatever hybrid villain any given story needs.
- The Guide or Mentor is the one with the special knowledge, insights, and skills and becomes the herald of destiny. The mentor triggers the protagonist’s inner awakening and sets him or her on the path of transfiguration. It could be the archetypal wise old man or teacher: Think of the classic example of the mentor figure as found in Ben Kenobi in Star Wars – who guides Luke Skywalker through the story, or Morpheus in The Matrix, who is Neo’s teacher. It could be a young and dashing romantic figure. In Titanic the guide takes on the shape of the dashing romantic figure of Jack, who leads Rose through the story.
- Supporting Characters have significant interaction with the Protagonist, and contribute to the major events of a film, but aren’t the primary focus of the story’s narrative. The primary function of all supporting characters. To serve/support the Protagonist in attaining the goal, creating an orbit around the protagonist, either aiding or resistance to the attainment of his or her goal in a positive way by teaching, caring, loving, mentoring, etc,
- A Function Character is a character who performs a single function in the story without being involved in the motivational pattern of the major characters.
Once you have identified the people who live in your story, The Write Journey course shows you how to write a solid biography, explores 22 elements that define characters, how to craft a visual narrative that will ignite the imaginations of viewers and readers so that the story becomes alive in their minds and evoke an emotional response, how to write dialogue, showing how characters express themselves verbally, and the importance of research.