Character Led Scripts

Following on from yesterday’s post, David Robinson used Gustav Freytag’s pyramid to discuss the expected story arc in most scripts and novels. Some useful explanations of this are here and here.

David performed a couple of sections from scripts he has written to allow us to examine the script and the characters being portrayed. We, as the audience, shared our different conclusions about the characters which was useful to understand how important it is to take time with scripts and novels to create real characters, who have layers to them which can drive the story forward.

Ultimately, the audience, whether sitting in a theatre or reading a book or watching a movie will take more pleasure from the experience when we have thought through our characters.

  • Who are they? Honest, uncaring, cruel, devious, kind, passionate, boring… However we reveal our characters they can add nuance and depth to the story.
  • What is the setting? The names we give our characters can place them at a particular point in time.
  • What is the location? What is our character doing there? Do they belong? Are they out of place? Are they remembering other events in different locations, if so – are these likely locations for our characters to have been?

If at all possible, write out a backstory for your characters and their description. This can be added to at any time during the process as thoughts come to you or as you research and may provide a rich source for you to draw on as you write.

I found the day to be useful in thinking about how I am tackling the sequel to Fallen Warriors. The first novel was very much a character driven story, each person dealing with their own inner demons, the character journeys often driving the story forward in ways I hadn’t expected.

It was also really encouraging to be able to meet with so many writers who are each going through similar experiences and to be able to encourage each other. If you would like to find out more about the Association of Christian Writers and find out about membership and events you can do so here:

Finally, David told us about The Watermill Theatre in Newbury that runs the Raising Voices critique service, reviewing scripts for a nominal £33 fee. Details can be found here:

Also, if you are in a good mood, or perhaps even a funny mood, you might be interested in entering the ACW Comedy Writing Competition, to be judged by David Robinson. The theme is Bringing a Little Sunshine and they are looking for comedic sketches (maximum 1000 words) or comedic poems (maximum 24 lines.)

Details are here:

A Christian Writers look at Script Writing

I’ve been a member of the Association of Christian Writers twice, first back in the nineties until I left the UK to work abroad, then for the last couple of years, but have never attended any of their events… until this weekend.

I had the opportunity to travel down to Newcastle for their writers day with David Robinson
who was speaking on performance writing for the stage, film, television and radio. David has extensive experience as an actor and was Artistic Director of the Saltmine Theatre Company. He is co-founder of Searchlight Theatre Company and has written many stage plays including Mr Laurel and Mr Hardy, Woodbine Willie and An Angel’s Delight.

His theme for the day was developing character led scripts, something I found really useful as I’m still working on the plot for my Fallen Warriors sequels.

I’m going to split my write up of the day into several posts. To start with, David gave us a friendly ice-breaker – what books, plays or films would we, as writers, take to a desert island…

I found myself jotting down titles suggested as people explained how the selections had impacted them and as I’ve never read most of them!

The Frogs by Aristophanes – Struck by how relevant this was to modern society.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – A strong female character who took control of her life.

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller – Such a powerful story.

The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster – Despite being published initially in 1909, this short story/novella could almost have been written yesterday, so prescient about the impact technology has on our lives today, the way people have changed communication with each other.

Goodbye Mr Chips by James Hilton – Describing the process of change.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

And in case you’re wondering, I decided on Robinson Crusoe as a book and The Martian as movie… For me it would be all about survival and getting off that island!

More tomorrow!