Many times screenwriters have specific goals and ideas when it comes to the development and presentation of their characters. While essential to create the story, once the initial rough draft is written you must revisit each scene to ensure the emotional reactions are coherent with true character personalities. If not, the entire story and how it is perceived may be in jeopardy.
Reviewing the reactions and energy levels produced by each character reveals story holes and weaknesses within characters. However, the true work is not simply reviewing the emotional landscape of characters, but how screenwriters tend to these shortcomings.
Reactions Based on Energy
I’ve not only spent years researching and developing screenwriting techniques, but I’m also a successful actor. Throughout this training, I learned the importance of shaping reactions based on energy levels of other characters. As a screenwriter, you must review the energy levels exchanged between each character. Are these energy levels appropriate in regards to: Setting, Character Relationship, Current Mindset and Scene Objective?
Screenwriters must review these five points within each scene to ensure dialogue and action sequences are appropriate, realistic and positive regarding story progression.
Appropriate Personality Reactions
Many times screenwriters write dialogue and reactions based upon their own mind and energy. They place part of themselves within the character exchanges. While this is essential to provide life and realism to many characters, it must be delicately done to prevent inaccurate emotional reactions.
If your character reacts in a manner that is too similar to how you would react, or if their reactions are similar to each other because each character hasn’t strayed too far from your own personality, then there is a problem. Far too many screenplays show promise, but the inability of the screenwriter to appropriately assign reactions according to individual personalities is commonplace.
Avoid this pitfall by carefully analyzing the emotional landscape of each character and monitoring how they react within every scene. If these reactions are too similar to each other or don’t naturally reflect the true personality of the character then you must return to the drawing board and re-access these choices and scene elements.