“I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event, which is to say character-driven.” ~ Stephen King, American author.
As you start to plan a story in your mind, a powerful desire to create rich plot and characters is born, something which can get your interest and burn passionately inside you, to thus motivate you to do your best all the way through the story, from start to finish but to enjoy the creative journey. A very wise and professional way to do this and be successful at any form of storytelling, indeed emotionally connected, is to mentally personify key elements in that story, to pour and spread yourself in that story; therefore, the most important aspects of that story will be enriched if you write about things and experiences from your own life, and if each character, or at least the main character, has some features belonging to your persona, in order to make the story emotionally rich and real to the reader or audience. Because there is no more emotion and reality you can talk about than the ones in your own persona and experience.
If you wish to create a character that is really different from you and that has no qualities which can be found in yourself, this is fine also if you have some experience watching people and understanding the psychology of others so you can make this new character pop up in your story; however, your main character (protagonist) will make or break your story, no matter how good the plot is and how much fantasy or action there is, so you will have to extend yourself into this particular character, embody this character in the flesh, know how he thinks and feels, his beliefs and his intentions (you must do this with all characters in your story, but most importantly with your main one). This is the key to your story’s success, so do not ignore it.
In the world of film-making, screenwriting mostly (the story’s true creator), it has been stated that invention is often memory in disguise. And this means that true emotion and connection shall emerge from something you know by heart, perhaps some hint of a experience you had or some trait you have gained from your past. See, the writer must perform in his mind, be God and be everywhere, rapidly shifting points of view that look at different characters at different moments. The point here is to create something rich which can really move you and build a passion in you, and at the same time create something which can also move the audience and connect them to you through your work; but, obviously, if you are not successful in this process, it does not matter the wonderful scenarios depicted in your work, your art will suffer and people won’t connect to it.
I have written a screenplay, in early states of production now, called: “Michael Vega: Loose Damned.” And for the purpose of demonstrating further, I would like to share some lines here. I have written the main character, Michael Vega, based on me, or at least some traits:
FADES INTO BLACK, we hear rattling of chains and screaming.
EXT. ENTRANCE OF CREEK – MOMENTS LATER
The same disheveled and burned-up man comes out crawling from the quiet waters, breathing heavily while in pain. He staggers up, looks around confused and lost.
CAMERA FOLLOWS FROM MAN’S POV, right side straight into emptiness, then left side to overlooking empty road. On post, he sees a sign:
ASHFORD COUNTY LAKE. HEBER 20 MILES.
Michael (V,O- Voice Over)
“Hi, my name is Michael Vega. That much
I do remember… And I’m not ordinary nor
CAMERA SHOWS HIS FULL FACE AND TORSO NOW, he looks 35 years old, wears the cool black, face significantly scarred. He limps to rock and sits, sees visions (flashes) of flames and hears chains rattling, cackles and slaves being whipped. Flashes stop and he agonizes in silence. Clutches head.
(Side note: A little explanation. Notice how Michael is depicted here; this is basically me, because I am also 35 years old now, love wearing black jackets, and Michael also has endured a tough and “hellish” life, just like me in my real life.)
“I did something not many do to get here.
I’m looking for someone. But this is all
I will tell you for now, you don’t need
to know more. Just remember, I’m not
ordinary nor pathetic.”
CAMERA PULLS OUT AND FADES IN TO BLACK, all silent except for rattling chains and screams of pain.
EXT. PAVED ROAD – SAME DAY
CAMERA FOLLOWS MICHAEL’S POV, only his heavy breathing and pained grunting are heard. Straight view of the overlapping empty road, we see nothing but pavement, clear skies and side empty fields for a while.
CAMERA’S ANGLE CHANGES DRASTICALLY, now we see the road and his ominous shadow limping for drama scene, exhausted, about to…
CAMERA SHOWS HIS SIDE BODY COLLAPSING, then zooms to face on the ground. Centers on eyes squinting and bleeding blood.
CAMERA PULLS OUT AND FADES IN TO BLACK, all silent except for rattling chains and screams of pain…
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Characters, plot, subplot, tension;
All human experience, emotional connection.
What does magic have to do with storytelling…??
Well, it is all about creating worlds, human compelling.
And why does it have to be richly character-driven…??
Because rich characters create that world, that is a given.
Great movies show and then tell, never the other way around.
Excellent novels free the mind to dream and become spellbound.
I find stories and things coming alive wherever I look,
As soon as I wake up I get lost in my magic book.
~ By Asa Rodriguez
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