How The Monkey Mind Enhances The Characters In Your Screenplay


Previously, I discussed the concept of misbehavior of the characters in your story. As if our jobs as screenwriters wasn’t tough enough separating the good characters from the bad.

Misbehaving characters in your film script aren’t veritable villains, or evil as such and don’t actively thwart the protagonist. However, they exhibit negative behaviors although the characters may not consciously realize it.

Even good characters exhibit moments of negative behaviors and weaknesses. It makes them human because they exhibit different shades of the human behavioral spectrum.

Such characters don’t necessarily change, but rather defer to their darker selves in times of crisis and extreme pressure. Then they revert to their typical selves.

What exactly is the monkey mind and how does it relate to screenwriting?

In taoist philosophy, the monkey mind refers to our ego state that causes us to act inappropriately,  unexpectedly and atypically. It is idle internal chatter.

It makes us stubbornly hold on to outdated beliefs that no longer serves us, and upsets the stillness and peace in the body. It makes our minds flit from thought to thought without purpose or achievement. It makes us act impulsively and sometimes unwisely.

This phenomenon is often seen in the third act when the main character has virtually given up hope of achieving their goal. They have recouped their energy and prepare to wage one final battle to achieve their goal and overcome their obstacles.

The hero does something they were either previously afraid to do, or didn’t consider previously. We often question where the hero’s power suddenly cam from.

It is the do or die moment. It is the ultimate display of strength. This wouldn’t have occurred without the help of the monkey mind. Paradox you say? Absolutely.

Why do we need the monkey? It tests and challenges us. It strengthens our resolve. It makes us pause and consider the moment. It makes us takes risks and feel alive. It is the thorn in our sides. It leads us away from our true paths. It’s a counterbalance to our logic. But without the monkey, how else would we experience the world around us; opportunities, challenges and wonderment?

If we ignore it, the monkey mind lies dormant. If we ignore it too long, we fail to grow. If something within us or around us triggers its awakening, it plays havoc. It causes trouble and mischief. It needs things to do. It has a child-like desire to explore.

The monkey mind thinks only in linear terms; cause and effect. The monkey mind satisfies our ego and gets us into situations we shouldn’t necessarily get involved in. It’s always busy. It’s always reactive. It’s a part of us.

Do you have a monkey or a gorilla? Is it restless, fanciful, whimsical? See how the monkey can enhance your characters and improves your screenwriting.

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