I’m currently writing my second screenplay at this very moment. I have a very personal and intimate connection to it, most of it being based on my own personal experiences or themes that I’ve encountered or discovered through my high school years. Many writers will tell you that the best stories you can share are the ones that you know, which is true. When an individual explains a funny situation or an awkward moment, it’s always best to let the person who actually experienced that particular instance to retell. Whether it’s traumatic or humorous, a story is a story. But the best stories are not about particular plot, but about character. How does an individual react or respond to such, and how can we see a forward or retracted movement?
With this current screenplay that I’m pulling my hair out for, it’s so personal in a way that I have to write it exactly in a manner that I’d approve. It’s a major problem in potentially sharing it with anyone who’d like to pay a ticket, rent, or illegally download. If you’re going to do it, it better be done right. I’d love to share and exploit every specific dramatic beat, plot, and characters on this blog, but that would be incredibly stupid, though my thoughts and ideas have no specific monetary value. But every writer’s most valuable asset are their stories. But without going into such detail, I can say that it focuses on baggage and the issue with individuals, mainly youth, and the limitations that we have from our past and our inner struggles. We are held back constantly in understanding people, specifically ourselves, and this blockage of knowledge and emotional growth occurs in every human. Wrap that around a marketable story and characters, and you can get some basis of what the screenplay is about.
I recently had a vent session with one of my closest friends and a personal reader (people I send out my ideas, scripts, etc. to and get their notes, responses, criticism) and couldn’t get past a certain issue that occurs consistently. it’s a problem that I think we have with a lot of movies and films today, and that’s the part where story and plot takes over and we ignore the characters. My problem is that I’m so worried about the reader or the audience being bored or lost with where the story is going, that I spend hours and hours fearing where the film is going rather than worrying about where my character is going. As subjective as film is, the constant fear of people loving or hating your work is a presence that will follow anyone that commits to a life of creativity. But that fear is counterproductive, as I’ve recently discovered.
In a recent interview with Martin Scorsese, he stated that he doesn’t care about plot, and focuses entirely on characters. Not all of his films may reflect this statement, but if you’re a fan of Scorsese’s work, you know that much of his work is grounded on that ideal. A plot’s main purpose is to bring out something in your characters, and what happens during that allotted time should display a sense of humanistic qualities that we wouldn’t have seen unless this exact situation presented itself. Nothing more, nothing less.
Life isn’t a plot. Life isn’t one story. It’s an experience. It’s a continuous learning and growing opportunity, where we react, contemplate, and explore. No matter how good a story is, it only goes as far as how good your character is.