Before we pick it up where we left off last time, take a moment to review your work on your own Relationship Chart. When you’re ready, we’ll move into the Bonus Round, where we look deeper into character and relationships.
On the sheet of paper or file you used earlier, write out your answers to the questions below:
EMOTION -> REACTION:
Let’s take a look at how emotions in one character can trigger emotions and/or actions in others:
Start with the Hero. Ask this question of each emotion you charted in the Rule Book.
- When the Hero is (angry, sad, frightened, etc.) how does ____ react?
Do this for every major character. (This can be quite a list.)
A subplot is a secondary plot line that supports or supplements the main story. In screenwriting, it’s referred to as the “B” story or “C” story and helps give rhythm and release to the tension of the main story conflict. All novels and films have them and often they stem from conflicts between other characters.
Now . . . name a conflict/tension that each character has with at least one other character. What does this suggest to you? Does this develop into or deepen a subplot for the story?
THE BEST POSSIBLE– Make a judgment about the following:
- Is my choice for Hero the BEST possible Hero for this story? Why?
- Who brings the most conflict in the story? Is that person the Villain? If not, then why not?
- How is the Villain a worthy match for the Hero?
- How will I richly illustrate the Protagonist and Villain? Are these traits revealed throughout the story?
FLESHING IT OUT
List the most interesting relationships that you found in the Chart that you are NOT current exploiting.
Consider the following:
- Who is the LAST PERSON (aside from the Villain) you could imagine coming to the aid the Hero? What if they did?
- Who are you SURE WOULD NEVER turn against the Hero? What if they did?
- Is the Hero involved throughout the story?
- Does s/he control the outcome of the story? If not, why not?
- Where is the Hero emotionally?
- … at the beginning of the story?
- … at the Midpoint?
- … at the second plot point?
- … at the end of the story?
We’ve only just scratched the surface of the gold that can be mined from a deep understanding of Character. I encourage you to spend some real time exploring all the possibilities such an examination has to offer. Powerful characters deepen the effectiveness of the plot, expand the story through relevant subplots, and make your story come alive on the page.
Take the Chart for a spin and let me know what you think. I hope this series has helped you move closer to your best story.
Art Holcomb is a screenwriter and comic book creator. This post is an excerpt from his new writing book, tentatively entitled SAVE YOUR STORY: How to Resurrect Your Abandoned Story and Get It Written NOW!
For those who have noticed, I’ve been MIA for a while. A little traveling, a little teaching, a little family time. Many thanks to Art, KM Weiland and Kay Kenyon for helping out with some great content.
I’ll back in Storyfix mode soon, beginning with the Q3 Newsletter catch up, then more content. Lots to talk about you. See you soon — Larry