– 6 min –
Ok, so more character development first. But I’m a bit tired. I need a little break. Give me a rest. Do I really need to write every day? No. I am the ruler of my schedule. So, everyone on the screenwriting group says ‘write every day’, but hey, I have other things I want to do and yes, they are related to film, the other classes of my DIY film school, which I started October last year. So, it’s not like I’m not doing anything related to film or writing. I am.
But first a little relaxing time, with episode number 3 of the amazing new TV series Mr. Robot, which I am slow watching on TV (meaning I am watching it as it comes on TV, once a week, as you should watch a TV series like that in my opinion, it will sink in much more that way and you won’t have any withdrawal symptoms either like when you’re binge watching a whole season at once. I also started to wonder why there is a tendency to binge watch TV series, apart from the fact that we now can. Of course it has to do with the immediate gratification we have come accustomed to in today’s society, we don’t want to wait anymore for something we want. We want it now and we want it immediately and all at once. What I am discovering when you are binge watching, I too am guilty of that in the past with Prison Break, is that there is simply too much going on and information for you to fully take it in and what you’re missing out on, is the beauty of a TV series, the character development and most of all, to let you think about it, like what would you do in the same situation? To really let it sink in. And then, when you’re done processing and talking about it with your colleagues or friends and doing all kinds of other things, which your brain loves, then there is another episode and your brain has room for more. The enjoyment also goes on for much longer. And lasts longer too. Because you have let it become part of you over a much longer period of time. I personally don’t believe in fast learning processes. Like learning how to drive in 10 days straight. Or trying to put information into your brain in 2 days in college before an exam, something I have done many a times myself. It simply does not stick and you will have forgotten everything a week later. Because it’s not integrated and connected to other things in your long term memory as well. I think it also has to do with the lack of caring about people in general and the lack of wanting to be involved and lack of commitment. And not to forget FOMO, the fear of missing out. So we want as much information as possible at once. The thing we don’t realize however, is that even though we think we are consuming a lot of information, as much as we like, it won’t stick and we only know this information very superficially. A little bit of a lot. It’s like having 863 friends on Facebook and being proud of it, but hardly knowing any of them or only 2 or 3. Trying to have as many experiences as possible, but hardly being able to remember them later, because there are simply too many for your brain to digest or store up. It’s about quantity and not quality. We have come to believe, and society isn’t helping us with this, that more is better and that width has preference over depth, that knowing a little about a lot, a generalist, is better than knowing a lot about a smaller amount of things, being a specialist. But I digress).
And how grateful I am for this episode. It was exactly what I needed to give me that first step back into character development, apart from what I will reread in the books I have about it, and get unstuck.
*SPOILERS AHEAD* (although they are not about what actually happens in this episode)(if you’re not watching Mr. Robot yet, I can highly recommend it)
The main topics in this episode of Mr. Robot, all related and connected, are:
What is your bug? What forced you to change and adapt and you didn’t want to and want retaliation for? And who or what is to blame for that?
What are you not willing to lose?
What are your secrets, weak spots?
Who is really pulling the strings in your life? Ruling your life?
What drives you, what motivates you to do things?
Why do you keep doing certain things that aren’t good for you, what do you still get out of it and you are not willing to give it up? What’s your payoff?
Talk about getting to know characters! And what I then also thought and was immediately a bit scared of, was that maybe I should answer all these questions about myself first. I mean, what greater example than yourself. Not that you want your characters to be anything like yourself per se, but it will give you not only an idea, an example of it, but the emotion and feeling that comes with that as well. Especially if you want to write about a character with a certain life or lifestyle you have no relation to at all. For instance, I have no idea what it’s like to be filthy rich. So, it’s hard for me to know how that feels. I do however know what it’s like to have very little and how difficult that can be. This doesn’t mean that I can never write about a character who is filthy rich, it just means that I know what it’s like not to have what you want because resources are missing and how that feels. To get in touch with that feeling itself will help me to better and more convincingly write about this feeling and emotion, because I know what it feels like myself. And for the filthy rich person, I am sure that when you are losing your wealth for instance or not getting your weekly allowance from your parents or are cut out of the will or are afraid these things will happen, just to name a few things, can evoke that same kind of feeling and emotion that a less wealthy person has having to scrape by every week, living paycheck to paycheck. Yes, you CAN compare those two. And saying that ‘a wealthy person who loses his wealth has no idea what it feels like to be at the bottom of the money ladder’ is not entirely true. Although it is NOT the same, because he will probably still have more, materially, to him, the feeling of the loss is the same, because he will compare it to what he is used to. How he grew up, comparing it to his old living standards. Of course the beauty of not having a lot, is that you can be happier with less than the wealthy person can. And he will have to do a larger adjustment in his life than you. But that’s a whole other topic.
Back to the questions. Watching the episode of Mr. Robot you see a few of these questions answered clearly and you get an aha moment. At least I did. Because you are given examples of all those things, fears of loss, secrets you don’t want exposed, motivations for retaliation. And we, the audience, recognize it. Not per se that kind of secret or specific event driving you to retaliation, but the questions themselves are recognizable and we all understand that feeling, because we ALL have things we’re not willing to lose, secrets we don’t want people to discover, motivations, bad things we’re not willing to let go off. And we may not come up with what that is right away, because it could be buried deep inside and may take some triggering to come to the surface, but we can relate to it all the same. And that’s what make such character portrayals so incredibly good and stick and you want to watch more of it.
So, back to the drawing board it is. Back to character development. I also thought of a way out of having to answer these questions about myself, well at least for now. Because just like in Mr. Robot, having these things coming to the surface, realizing what they are, can be confronting and difficult.
Maybe I can just think of friends and family for now and whether I can answer those questions about them or maybe I can focus on it more when I watch a movie or a TV series and if I can discover the answers to those questions in those characters.
Yep. I think that this is a big enough step forward and good learning curve for a 4th day of writing your first screenplay, bringing incredible revelations to the surface.
Who knew and this is only day 4.
And who is to say that ‘writing every day’ means writing on the actual screenplay itself and can’t be writing about it and in this case the amazing discoveries you’re making while trying to write it. And by writing about those discoveries, they will actually help your screenplay forward and develop and become better, before it’s even written. So there. Still on target.