Didn't Do Nothin'
During the making of the movie Cast Away, Tom Hanks and the screenwriter were developing the story, and
it was going well - other than the ending. In the end, the character was rescued.
Robert Zemeckis, the eventual director of the movie told them that the character had to get himself off the island. It was essential to have the character do it himself somehow.
Apparently it's a common practice for beginning writers…and even experienced writers… to write passive characters.
Things happen TO them, rather than them doing things, fighting for things, pushing toward their goals.
Of course, things happen to people in life all the time - and things happen to characters in fiction all the time.
It's not that these are just made up “rules” for no reason; I think it's the fact that passive characters will just ‘feel wrong’ in a story. It puts people off. Makes them tune out. We don't read and watch stories for that.
But in the stories that will feel right, or don't feel ‘wrong’, the things that happen to the characters will be brought into being by actions the characters are taking. They are moving toward what they want, and create these obstacles as they go, and then overcome them.
I've written passive characters. Definitely. Maybe it's something to work on - does a passive character work sometimes, though? Maybe in comedy. Maybe in the right circumstances. I'm not an authority on that…
…so for now I'll hang back passively and see what happens.
Banes at 12:00AM, May 30, 2019
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