Why Your Screenplay’s Main Character Must Be Injured And Healed


In traditional screenwriting, the main character must be metaphorically (or literally) hurt in some way (inciting incident), forcing them to undertake a journey. Buddhists believe that pain (conflict) is a resistance of the will of a higher force (theme).

An injury is defined by universal law as a condition or circumstance in which the soul of the main character needs to purge something unnecessary from within themselves. The source of the injury is immaterial, but not allowing it to purge from your character will cause pain.

Some characters can only find completeness (resolution) if the pain passes through numerous hosts (karmic transcendence). That is, the main character must affect other people through their actions. The main character has an ego personality which drives their healing process (journey). They may be impressed by their own abilities or want to impress others, seek approval, recognition or fame, or have expectations (or attachment to) final outcomes. These attachments to a final result (goal) may be conscious (want) or unconscious (need).

The healer (main character) may not knowingly seek to fix the real problem, but rather, a problem. Any problem, no matter how unrelated. Consciously trying to fix a perceived problem indicates a judgment, and therefore suggests the fallibility of higher forces. The higher forces know exactly what they’re doing. A poor judgment is fear-based and often results from unclear thinking. The resulting pain is the negative energy leaving the body. On a positive note, pain causes growth, enrichment and wisdom (character arc). Pain is not the enemy and comfort (lesson) will follow after it’s passed.

Humans molt… hair, skin, outdated attitudes, consciousness, character flaws and poor behavior. If we fail to molt, pain results until we do… and grow. If we still resist, we self-destruct. The main character must realize they are responsible for their pain (injury) and own it. Higher forces will eventually guide them towards comfort. Growth does not cause pain, but rather a resistance to it. Therefore, the main character’s soul and consciousness (motivation) must sometimes take drastic measures to face their fears if they refuse.

Buddhists believe there are two laws of healing; transformation (character arc) and faith (journey). Both of these aspects must be present for healing to occur. This makes more interesting characters and better stories.

To blame a higher power for one’s predicament is vain and arrogant, given than the healer created the problem. They have a perception (illusion of reality) which is distinct from avoidance and denial. Once they reach a place of balance, true humility and subsequent transformation can occur.

A character’s journey is so much deeper than them simply learning a lesson or becoming better people. It relates to a fundamental transformation in values and beliefs which resonates so powerfully within audiences.

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