Writing a screenplay is a tough disciple; especially when screenwriters are developing their characters. We observe people all the time so you’d think it would be relatively easy, right? Good guys do good things and the bad guys to bad things to stop them. This is true most of the time.
Since movie characters are aggregates of human behavior, they largely adhere to behaviors consistent with their dramatic function. But humans don’t always stick to the rules. Heroes have their flaws and sometimes display negative behaviors. Furthermore, villains may also show a touch of goodness to balance them out. After all, no character is completely good or completely bad. Perfect = boring.
Not only do screenwriters need to take into account the quirks of their characters when writing a screenplay, they need to understand their complexities too. It’s vital to understand how their behaviors manifested are either diametrically opposed to , or unrelated to their motivation.
These contradictory behaviors reflect the struggle between a past wound and the present situation.
Let’s take a look at some of them:
We’ve all seen those characters in film. They’re obnoxious. Arrogance can also be shown as being overly calm, self-assured and in full control of a situation.
This is an ugly trait exhibited by characters who are actually vulnerable, have poor self esteem and lack confidence.
This often reflects weakness, insecurity and feelings of worthlessness. You often see comedians act this way in movies, making it all seem like a joke. But deep down, they;re hurting.
Exaggerated feelings of worthlessness can manifest as martyrdom, like the friend who always helps others at the expense of their own needs.
This ultimately relates to issues of control. Ever witnessed the hyper-efficient cop, lawyer, CEO or [insert job title] whose personal lives are spiraling out of control? This becomes particularly apparent when the said character is forced to confront changes, such as a new colleague, a new house or a new partner.
Fear of change or loss of control can also be manifested through self-destructive behaviors such as drinking, smoking or partying too much.
We also see this Felix Unger, OCD cleanliness and obsessive behavior.
This is a good one that any screenwriter without a psychology degree can use in their film scripts. Examples include the happy go lucky best friend really who’s depressed, the seemingly sexually evolved virgin (hello American Beauty), or the kind-hearted person with a mean streak.
5) SILENCE / NOISE
Ever heard the quote by Stephen Hawking “Quiet people have the loudest minds?” Or the loudest people at a party have the least to say? This often equates to introverted and extroverted behavior and how these characters handle their environment. An introvert will become overwhelmed in a noisy environment while an extrovert will thrive in it.
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