Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why Characters Need to Be Different from Each Other

Because conflict is the key element in any form of story telling, it is important to make sure your characters are different in significant and minor ways. Characters with differing world views, attitudes, values and modes of operation offer a wealth of opportunities for  conflict.


The by-the-book cop partnered with someone who thinks the rules are merely suggestions meant to be broken.

A neat freak living with a slob.

A night owl married to an early riser.

A penny pincher and a compulsive gambler.

A daredevil into extreme sports and a fearful homebody.

These are just a few examples of character couplings with built-in conflict possibilities. 

Not only will these characters have a natural conflict simply by being in each other's presence, they will disagree about how they go about solving problems and achieving the major goal of the story.

Take a cop story, for instance. Say one character wants to bust the drug ring by carefully building a case, while the other want's to bust in with guns blazing. Great conflict.

Having two or more characters who want to achieve the same goal together, or for an even greater level of conflict, two wildly different characters who are, for whatever reason, forced to solve the problem together, can create several levels of conflict.

So when starting your next story, create characters who will naturally conflict with each other. It can lead to great story telling.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Movie Dialogue Vs Real Speech

Movie dialogue is supposed to APPEAR TO SOUND like real-life conversation without actually BEING like real-life conversation.

Most of what people have to say in a particular real conversation is not that interesting to other people, only certain elements are. If any.

All of the dialogue in a film or TV show is supposed to move the story forward, so limit it to the meat of what you want to impart to the audience. Make it sound they way people talk in real life but without all the usual fluff, extraneous information and tangents.

Think of dialogue as Talk Light, only with much more meaning and drama. Or humor.

Enough said?

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Avoid the Second Act Blues

The second act is the longest of the three acts and for most people, the hardest to write. It's easy (usually) to come up with the beginning of a story and the big climax, but what do you do in between? This is where many stories bog down.

One thing you can do is keep in mind that every scene in your movie must move the story forward and in the second act, you need to keep increasing the tension and conflict. You must continually increase the stakes until a "showdown" is inevitable.

Yet at the same time, right at the end of the second act, things need to be at their worst for your protagonist. Often this is done by having your hero experience their "dark night of despair," when everything seems lost and or they have lost faith in themselves.

This is how you build a second act. When you construct it this way, the contrast between the dark low point and the climax will make the ending much more satisfying for the audience.

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