So you’ve developed a good story plot and have a myriad of ideas circulating in your head. You feel you’re ready to start writing, but hold on. Perhaps one of the most important steps in the screenplay creation process comes down to a single aspect in character development – what are the wants of your character?
Uncovering and subsequently outlining the wants of each character, not just the main character(s), is essential for story and dialogue flow. If you are not fully aware of the wants and desires of your characters then how can the story progress in a natural and understandable pace? Outlining the wants of each character requires extra thinking and delving into character history and personality.
Surface Level Wants
Perhaps the easiest step in this creation process is uncovering and outlining the surface level wants of each character. For example, in your story the main character is battling against the forces of evil to stop the antichrist from taking over and ruining the world. What would the surface level want of the “good guy” be? Perhaps the easiest answer is the main character wishes to do whatever necessary to stop evil from flourishing. Okay, that was easy. How about the “bad guy?” His surface level wants is to overthrow all religion and become the ruler of the universe.
Now, you must never write a story based upon these surface level wants as it will be stereotypical and without any substance. However, once you have uncovered the surface level wants of your characters it makes finding the deeper root of each character a little easier.
Adjusting Wants by Scene
One of the biggest mistakes a new screenwriter can make is not allowing room and flexibility within the character to adjust his or her wants as the story progresses. By sticking to the primary wants and desires of your character and now allowing them to be altered, or by not allowing their wants to be one thing in the beginning and something completely different in the end, will lead to a flat story.
While writing, consider how your character will change with this one scene and within all other scenes. Allow your character a chance to grow and adapt based upon his or her encounters. It’s only when you provide your characters with ability to grow, for better or worse, that a story moves from unrealistic to realistic.