One thing to always remember as a writer: you must have characters that are 3-dimensional. No excuses! These characters must feel the way we feel, say the things we say, do the things we would love to do if we weren’t so scared of doing them ourselves. These characters must befriend us, and we they. We must be willing to shut of the world for each other, at least till we meet ‘The End’.
Why is there such a buzz about ‘A Fault in Our Stars’? I really mean that because I just finished reading another blog which was literally about the experience of watching the movie surrounded by emotional teenaged girls bawling their eyes out. I mean, I’ve previously been in a movie theatre where the audience collectively ‘ohhed’ and ‘ahhed’ as characters burst onto the screen, but that was because it was ‘300’ we were watching and the chiselled muscles was too much to bare! But, all that outcry and immersion on a teen-movie?
It’s because the characters were drawn so well by the writers, and I say writers, which is to include the scriptwriters and not just John Green the novelist, because the three of them together took the 2-D characters of the book, which was very exclusively targeted at teen fans who wouldn’t mind a slightly less defined characters on the book because the aspects of personality shown was enough to swoon them anyway. If the actors didn’t embody the characters and breathed life into them, then again, I don’t think the hype would have been as big.
Lesson to take from the book and the film is to invest in our characters. They are not just for the purpose of telling a tale, but they are in fact the vehicles that move the tale forward. We have to learn from those that have gone before us and try to emulate their success but not copy what they have done.
I have recently written a feature-length script which was, even at its crudest stage, compared to the likes of ‘A Fault in Our Stars’. I was asked if I’ve watched the movie yet, which I haven’t and immediately was assigned a task of watching it, if nothing else than to observe how each character was cast. It feels absolutely intimidating to be told there is gold in your crude child, and that it’s time to ‘kill the darlings’, kill the parts that aren’t shining. All sound advice. Even though ‘killing your darlings’ might be the hardest things to do, it is absolutely necessary to sketch a well-rounded fantasy!
I’ve elicited some tears out of readers, but it’s time to roll the sleeves up, and get the hands dirty so that I can hopefully reduce a large number of you into a blubbering mess! Yes, that’s the mission of Characters, they need to take charge and drive the reader ahead on a journey.