Thursday, July 31, 2014

Film Writes: Character Dreams and Desires

WARNING: The following post contains plot spoilers from the Disney movie Tangled.

Pick one of your characters. Visualize that person (creature, if you write paranormal fiction). What is that character's dream? What is the one thing that keeps getting him/her/it out of bed every morning?

It's something you really need to know about each of your characters, especially your protagonists, and even your secondary characters, to round them out.

"I've Got a Dream"

If you've seen Disney's Tangled, you might remember the scene in the tavern, in which a potentially dangerous situation turns out to be cathartic.

If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it, but until you get the chance, here's a link to the pertinent song on YouTube.

Take three minutes and change, and go watch it.

Okay ... got it? Moving on.

Character Wants

Every character must want something. Each character will also have needs (and if the needs and wants conflict, so much the better), but the character has to desire something so much that he/she would sacrifice anything, or even die or kill for it.

Think Tangled.

Have I Got a Dream

In Tangled, Rapunzel's dream is to escape her tower long enough to see the lights in the sky that show up every year, and to find out their significance. She wants it so much that she disobeys her mother's orders, breaks a promise, and puts her life in jeopardy to find the answers.

Flynn's greatest want is to get his hands back on the crown he stole (and lost) so he can live in a palace of his own, and not have to be an outlaw. He wants it so much that he endangers himself to steal the crown and then gets blackmailed into helping Rapunzel achieve her dream.

Even Mother Gothel has a dream --- to be young and beautiful forever. She wants it so much that she kidnaps, deceives, and imprisons an innocent child for the child's power to cause youthfulness, and is even willing to commit murder over her desire.


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What does your character want, badly enough to kill for it? Define that want in a single sentence, and then go through your manuscript one scene at a time to make sure that every action ultimately points back to that deepest desire.

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