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Change (In Character). It's a GOOD Thing.

It’s normal to be passionate about your own protagonist. You should be, they are your own creation and I’m willing to bet that part of you is inherent in them. But when corrections are given, follow them. I’m not bringing down your creation because I want to be an asshole! I’m doing it because there are fundamental issues that need to be addressed if you want to have any kind of success in writing.

One of the biggest issues I see: incomplete character arcs.

Take a script I recently read. The character was strong: he had personality, he was passionate about what he was doing, he had moments of comedy that left me laughing my ass off, and he was generally enjoyable. The thing is that can only get me so far because he lacked one big thing. I couldn’t understand what he wanted to accomplish and by the end he was no different than he was in the beginning.

Why is this important? For a story line to be successful, the character has to go through some kind of a change. If you started your career and exited it the exact same way, that would be pretty boring right? Beyond that, what is the point if you don’t learn something? Every person has to go through something; it makes you stronger as an individual. Learning is part of the human condition, it makes you tick, it drives your personality, it changes the way that you view the world. The same goes for the character: if they go in and come out exactly the same, I feel as if I’ve just wasted all my time. I don’t want to spend 90 minutes to two hours watching some idiot do the same thing over and over again and learn absolutely nothing: it’s BORING. I expect to see the character in a different position than the one they started in because: THAT’S LIFE.

It doesn’t have to be a big change. I just want to see some kind of character development as the script goes on. It doesn’t even have to be a positive development for the character, they could lose everything by the end, the fact of the matter is: the character is different!

“The finest writing not only reveals true character, but arcs or changes to that inner nature, for better or worse, over the course of the telling.” – Robert McKee, “Story”

I can’t make you do anything though. Just know I’m probably going to throw your script out the window if I see this happen. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not a complete story if the character isn’t changed in some way, shape, or form by the resolution.


About the Author

I read scripts and provide coverage and notes. This is my chance to hopefully offer some helpful advice, and relay some war stories as we go as well. 

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