Friday, August 12, 2011

Sometimes the characters know best

I had an interesting writing day. I have these two groomsmen at this wedding. Early in the script, the groom disappears. So today I had them walk out of the room to look for him, when it suddenly occurred to me, Hey, they're looking for him.

What I mean is, in the treatment and the outline and all my other notes, I kind of dismissed these guys. I said they were off looking for the groom and figured that got them out of the way so I could go on with my plot. But while I was writing their dialogue, I realized that they need a place to look, and that place had to be logical. They'd start with the groom's house. I know where this guy is, but they don't. Maybe they think he got cold feet and went home? That would be anyone's first assumption.

But somebody else is at his house right now, so if these guys go to the house they'll interact with the bad guys and OH MY GOD OF COURSE THEY GO TO THE HOUSE!

And then it all came together. I realized that by letting the characters decide what to do and following their logical behavior, they solved one of my other story problems. In fact, they gave me the perfect ending to my story, the ending that was right in front of my face the whole time.

That happens a lot when I'm writing. I just let a character decide where they're going to go and they fix a problem. I love when that happens.


  1. As long as the characters don't try to sue you for story credit.

  2. Just had one of these, and solved a fat problem with a dull spot.. Character just cut straight to the chase, saved everyone some time, and it's how he would acted normally.

    Victory! :D

  3. Anonymous3:19 PM

    In both my scripts, I did let the characters elect what's best. I know - I placed in QF at Nicholl, but lucked out of PAGE 2011. The QF came out today and did not place. What's going on? I feel like a big zero? How come guys are scoring brownie points at Nicholl but not doing well at PAGE? And just found out from a Done Deal Pro thread, just posted that 75% of the QF for Comedy were women! Is there something that is going on? The guys are thriving at Nicholl and the men are bombing at PAGE and the women are glowing at PAGE. Is this because PAGE is operated by two of nicest women in the business? Not meaning to sound sexist, but wouldn't it fair for PAGE to add a male Script Coordinator and Manager to their contest?

  4. Lol Daniel.

    Yay Peter!


    If you're going to do that, you should add a black person and an Asian person and a Latino person to every contest judging panel, and make sure there are always women on every panel.

    Have you ever complained about fairness when the winners of a contest were disproportionately male? Because that's almost every contest.

    I'll wager the women did better because the people reading their scripts thought they were better. You think it's impossible that so may women could write good scripts?

    Contests are subjective. Screenwriting is subjective. I've known scripts that raced up the Black List that I couldn't finish. There are many films that I love and other people cannot stand.

    Ever met two people who agreed 100% on every film?

    Congrats on your Nicholl placement! That's further than I got. Shrug your shoulders about Page and try again next year.

    But please keep in mind that when you attribute those wins to sexism, you take away from the people who succeeded.

  5. Nah, it is (potentially) sexist.

    Emily only thinks it's sexism when we have a lack of female action stars. But reverse sexism? Couldn't ever exist. Not in a million years. And their are no other possible explanations, other than sexism, for the lack of female action stars.

    Lesson learned, it's only sexism if it works against women and bothers Emily, because as we all know, the world revolves around Emily.

  6. The PAGE current and past judge list, going by names that can be definitively gendered, roughly 17 men and 6 women.

    Reality sucks when it doesn't match our desires and self-narratives, and people react defensively, perceiving threat, whether it's to their (proper use of their, btw, rat guy) ideologies or favorite consumer brands, or ability to write.

    Recovering Booth Rat, your rapt attention helps keep the sunny spot that is Emily the bright center of the universe, way to go! In case you want some fresh perspective and distance on matter, a sweet find just for you. And, considering the titillating sexist nature of your own most recent blog post, a game, that looks so good I might just pick it up myself. That should keep you busy, for the moments you're not practicing that whole spelling thing.

    Sorry re getting involved in fray, Emily, this one got my goat. Now I'm going to go feed my goat.

  7. RBR, congratulations on your perfectly executed Straw Man.

    Hey, Atlanta, say what you've got to say.

  8. D'arcy, The Bitter Script Reader said it much better than I did. This is very well put:


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