Posted by: steveonfilm | April 8, 2008

Re: Is the new character a crutch?

I was reading Screenplay: Writing the Picture, by Robin U. Russin and William Missouri Downs, and came across an interesting paragraph in chapter thirteen, Writing Dialog.

In light of my post yesterday, I thought this little paragraph was especially poiniant. Turns out that Sharon isn’t a crutch, she’s a confidant.

Russin and Downs define a confidant as “a character who is basically there to give the main character someone with whom to talk. As the confidante is filled in, so is the audience. The trick is to make sure the confidenate’s reason for being in the story is more than just being a confidante: He or she should be a lover, ally, meontor, parents, someone who fulfills another function within the story. All characters must advance the movie and not just serve the writer’s need to get out exposition.”

Reading that helped me get over my concerns about Sharon’s character. I’d say “confidant” pretty much nails what I’m using her for. She serves a function, a psychologist helping Tom defeat his “issues,” but she’s more than that. She puts Tom in his place. Calls him on his shit. And asks him the questions he doesn’t seem able to ask himself. In essence, when Tom hits a road block, she helps him get past it.

If anything, this was what John’s character was supposed to do. However, as I got through my “words on paper” draft I realized that wasn’t going to work. John isn’t introspective enough to be able to help Tom figure things out. He can’t put himself in someone else’s shoes. All he knows is that before he moved in Tom was lonely and not in good shape. He moved in to help with that situation. That’s that.

I still don’t know if Sharon’s character will stay or not. As I said yesterday I won’t be able to figure that out until I’m done with the “first draft.” However, the more I write her, the more I like her character. She’s tough, and I like that.

Enjoy.
-Steve

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