Monday, January 31, 2011

Consolidated characters

A couple of weeks ago my chief note was to give my protagonist a more task-oriented storyline. My first instinct was to create some extra bad guy to come in and give my girl a new job, but the better thing to do is to find a existing character who can fill that role.

I looked at the people I already had in the story and figured out a way to turn one of them into my extra bad guy. He was such a perfect fit that the huge overhaul I expected to do on my script became a simple revision. In fact, I solved a lot of problem with that one simple switch.

A lot of times script get convoluted as characters start building on top of each other when the best thing to do is to combine elements. It's cheaper to shoot and easier to follow a story where one character does the job of two. So you need a love interest and also a doctor. Love interest can be the doctor. It seems so simple, but I see scripts all the time where we spread our time between too many characters when we could combine several of them into fewer people and get to know those characters better.

So the first thing I do in a revision when I'm about to invent a new person is to figure out how I can use the people I already have. I find it always makes the story better.


  1. Hambooyah!!!8:37 PM

    Yeah, I'm all about Morganizing the characters' roles in a script.

    Why yes, I'm mixing screenwriting with late 19th century robber baron business practice.

  2. thanks for the pointers!

  3. As long as you don't consolidate the pooches. Twelve schnauzers in every story, that's my rule, extra points for baker's dozen. My dream is a pooch extravaganza, featuring lots and lots of squirrels, and flying sticks, all in 3-D. Best use ever of 3-D, the dogs will love it. Just gotta figure out how to keep the glasses on flat-nosed dogs...

  4. Hammy: I don't know what Morganizing is. And apparently I'm too lazy to Wiki.

    Atalanta: I saw that movie. Brendan Frasier was in it.

  5. Thanks Emily good tip. My first attempt at a script had a cast of thousands. I still probably write in 1 too many characters.

  6. Eeek, you saw that movie, brave woman. I was hoping for something... more entertaining, with sound design by Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed (their cred).

    I cut my cast by half, painfully, one at a time, distilled to cast where everyone serves double and triple duty. And I will confess, painful confession, I cut out all the dogs. Except for a cat (cat burglar, needs a cat), story is *sniff* animal-free. Shame on me.

  7. One of the warning signs of a bad script is too many characters popping up. I think you need to bring in threats and new wrinkles, yeah, but in Goodfellas and even Inception, I knew who was up to what pretty fast.


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