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Saturday, September 22, 2007
THE CATCH 22 OF OUTLINE/CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
I had been having trouble with my main character and his involvement in the plot of the story I sweated so much in creating. Every trait I gave him seemed to negate my story. It was like trying to cram a square peg into a round hole. He was also less interesting and less funny than the secondary characters. I was banging my head against the wall trying to figure this out and then I had the serendipidous opportunity to attend a presentation by the amazing ANDREW STANTON of PIXAR fame!
Andrew said a lot of amazing things (if you ever get a chance to go to his presentation or even get a DVD of the event I highly recommend it!), but the one thing that stood out to me since it was foremost on my mind was regarding character and story. He spoke of the story and plot giving you information on who your main character should be. I was feeling pretty good because that's exactly how I was working mine. Then he said some interesting things about developing character. Most of which I was doing as well. I was two for two with this guy. Then he said something that floored me. He said that developing and getting to know your character will ultimately change your story and you have to be willing to throw away all those amazing scenes that you created if your character doesn't fit in them. LIGHTBULB!!! I realised that I was so married to my story that I didn't allow my character to inform me on how the story should change.
Needless to say I went home and reworked my main character without considering the story. I am happy with how he is coming out and even more happy as to how he is changing the story. I am sad to see certain scenes go away because they don't fit anymore but conversely i am extremely happy that the scenes that stayed as well as the new scenes are character driven and not driven solely by the plot. And isn't that what we are all after?
So, the catch 22 is that developing your story will inform you of who your main character is and developing your main character will tell you that your story is wrong.