|"Seriously, guys: feet are the next big thing."|
Pixar's Andrew Stanton mentions that a prime storytelling commandment is to make the audience care. The best visual effects, sound design, and cinematography in the world won't matter unless your audience feels as though they have a stake in the outcome of the protagonist's journey. We're happy when your protagonist succeeds. We cry when your protagonist fails. We feel alongside the best-written characters. And what a tall order that is! In a feature screenplay, within two hours, you need to introduce your character, throw them into hot water, and make your audience feel so strongly about the outcome that they simply must rush out and tell their friends and family to also go experience your work.
How do you do that?
|"Where is the plot to this film? Tell me!"|
|"What? The unicorn t-shirt store is closed!?"|
|"We love each other even if this metal step really digs into our butts."|
|"We hit pay dirt at the unicorn t-shirt store."|
|"What do you mean, 'No returns on hoodies'?"|
Ideally, you'll have an idea as to what (or who) your character loves, what makes him unique, what he desires and dreams of, what he fears, and what his flaw is before you begin page one. The more complex your character, the more we'll want to know all about him. And the more we want to know about him, the more of your work we'll want to read, watch, and buy. Write on.
Jared teaches screenwriting at DeSales University. He has also taught at Emerson College and Salem State University. His creative work has appeared on MTV Networks, in the Tribeca Film Festival, and the Austin Film Festival. He offers screenplay coverage at www.screenplay.guru.