Sunday, September 11, 2011

I figured out my theme

I haven't written any physical pages on my script in over a week, but I have been working on it. I was thinking. In the shower, the car, lying in bed at night...

As the story has gone on, I've developed more confidence in it, figuring out problems here and there, getting to know the characters - but it has always felt that something was missing. So while I was busy working on school stuff, I kept my brain going on how to fill the missing pieces in the story. It all comes down to theme.

Most writers don't choose a theme for the story before they start writing. With most scripts, the theme appears while you're working. One day you write something and suddenly - oh! there it is! I kept trying to figure out what my primary themes was in this story, but nothing emerged.

I just went back to scene construction. I was thinking about the big confrontation scene at the climax and how I wanted that conversation to go. Then I said a line of dialogue that was very trailer-friendly and realized I finally knew what my character wanted more than anything else - family. I created this dysfunctional family dynamic with her, and this close family dynamic with her love interest. And as I pieced together their climactic conversation, I realized she didn't just want him, she wanted his whole family. And there it is.

With every script, there is that eureka moment when you suddenly figure out what the whole story is about. It's weird how we can do that, isn't it? We're so determined to find meaning that even without conscious thought, the story just assembles itself in a thematic way?

Anyway, I still have a lot of work to do and I'm going to write as much as I can this afternoon, but at least now I have a better sense of direction. You start with an idea, you put together a story, you develop the characters, and eventually you figure out what it's all about.

1 comment:

  1. It's really is amazing that we can write, sometimes, an entire script without knowing or even thinking about our theme. And then we realize we've written a story about family, or about parenthood or honesty or faith or whatever it may be, unintentionally. Perhaps, we're just so subconsciously aware of story-telling conventions that we're programmed to tell a story in a certain way.

    By the way, you may want to check out (or watch it again) the movie The Proposal with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. You've probably seen it, but the main character sounds similar to the character you're writing now. She thinks she just wants one thing but comes to the revelation that what she was missing all along was the one thing she was avoiding: family.


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