Home » Archives » January 2007 » Giving 'em Wrinkles (Cont'd)
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01/14/2007: Giving 'em Wrinkles (Cont'd)
This is continuing a thought from the last post. We were talking about character traits that give a character realism and depth by being plausible yet unexpected. This can be more than an observation about making the people you write more interesting. It can also be a mechanism for creating a story. After all, what's the best way to illustrate a character trait? Through an action. And action is story.
So... think of something that a character in the show you're specing would not normally do. Something that seems to be out of character. Now, this is slightly different than what I was talking about last time. Those were traits a character had at all times, but which we might not have expected. Now I'm talking about buried traits which are revealed through actions that a character *can* take, but which they wouldn't do without being forced to dig down to their soul. Find something they have to be pressed to do. Can your good guy, if pressed, kill? Can your bad guy, if pressed, sacrifice? Find those traits that are buried. Now figure out what would have to happen to make them surface. Press them. The sequence of events you come up with might just make a great spec.
Note that, for example, the House arc that just concluded could easily have come about in this way: How do we make House apologize, the writers might have asked, and then have come up with the arc to make it happen. Or, to pick other shows: What would make Spike seek out a soul for himself? What would make Dwight Shrute quit Dunder Mifflin? What would make Mary Richards laugh at a funeral? What would make President Roslyn fix an election? What would make Lyla (of Friday Night Lights) cheat on Jason?
Play around with this for a while. Make Adama betray the fleet. Make Coach Taylor (Friday Night Lights) hit a teenaged player. Make Vanessa Williams comfort Ugly Betty. Make House believe a patient when no one else does. Make good people do bad things, make bad people do good things, make someone do an unexpected thing... and then figure out the path that gets them there. Chances are, it'll be an interesting story.
Lunch: stuffed jalapenos at Jack in the Box