Thursday, 25 November 2010


No, this isn't some emo-induced, desperate cry to the universe about why I'm here, worry not. I've been spending a lot of time over the last two months reading through people's script proposals, treatments and outlines. I go at it with a nice multi-coloured pen, scribbling all over it. It's fun, since critiquing other people's work is easy as pie (why is pie easy?), whilst redoing your own stuff it a pain in the arse (aren't there worse places to have pains?)

The word I find myself writing more than any other is.....


Why is Bob deciding that he should go out on his own? Why is Shelly contemplating suicide? Why is Isac not contemplating suicide?

What is the character's motivation for doing what they do? You have to know the answer to this because, if you don't, the audience comes out with that inevitable criticism - 

"This doesn't make any sense!"

If you can justify actions in the eyes of your protagonist - if you can give him motivation - then you can do just about anything.

How does Sarah Connor keep going at the end of The Terminator when she's lost everything and the fucker just - won't - stop? It's not just survival. Her character motivation is that she needs to save her unborn son. It's that mother's instinct .

Why does Maximus not kill Commodus when he has the chance, in front of all those people? Because it's not the right time. He needs to do it right, it's all he has left.

Why does Willy Loman continually try to kill himself? Because he wants to save his family by getting some money from the insurance claim - they're better off without him anyway. Why does Linda (his wife) not say anything to him? Because she respects the one thing Willy has left - his pride.

Character motivations. That's pretty much what it's all about. After every single action your character takes, ask yourself - why? Can you justify this character's action based on their motivation? If you can, great, go for it. If not, prepare for:

"This doesn't make any sense!"

No comments: