Monday, May 24, 2010

CHARACTER - The 3 Needs

All dramatic writing boils down to what does your main character want? Why does s/he want it? What’s keeping her/him from getting it?

Yes, I’m sure many of you reading this know it. At the same time, reread that script that you wrote that didn’t get sold or optioned. Are you sure you conveyed answers to these three questions?

If you’ve been told that your script feels meandering or takes awhile “to get going,” chances are you need to identify your character’s want. If your main character has nothing that s/he wants, then your story will have no direction and feel adrift. The executive or creative element that is reading your work will not give your characters the “benefit of the doubt.” If they don’t know what’s at stake, they won’t read another ten pages to find out. They’ll just set it down.

If readers have said that they didn’t “invest” in the outcome, it likely means that your character “need” isn’t strong or clear enough. If your main character has one reason for wanting her/his goal, it is not nearly as strong as if s/he has TEN reasons. As you add more reasons, your character's "want" becomes a "need." And when you show that your character has a genuine need, your audience pays attention.

Think about your own life. If you only sort of want something, how committed are you to getting it? If you HAVE to have something, what would you be willing to do? The same is true for your characters.

There also needs to be a consequence for your character if s/he fails.

If readers have told you that your ending needs to be stronger, odds are good that there needs to be more obstacles and conflict. Torture your main character. When in doubt, create an obstacle - internal or external. The more obstacles your character must confront - or the more compelling the obstacle - the more the reader will root for your character and be involved with your script.

Readers who are involved, are more likely to option or buy. They are also more likely to remember you and your writing.

Have a great writing day!

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