Welcome to the next phase of being a character generator for screenplay writing. Another mentoring page from the Creative Project Ideas of the Simple Life. But before we begin lets check in with your creative self.
Right NOW how are you feeling?
Its okay, this isn’t a trick question. This is your time, so be honest.
Whatever you are feeling, right now, take ten minutes to write it down.
Yes, RIGHT NOW...
Write down: I feel……
I’ll be here when you get back. Don’t carry on with this page until you have written down how you feel. Not an essay. Just simply how you feel.
See you in 10 minutes... And do this exercise first before we get to the character generator part.
Everyone who wills can hear the inner voice.
It is within everyone.
Now take whatever you have written down and tear it up. As you tear it up let whatever worries and anxieties you have disappear as you throw that torn piece of paper in the bin. Do it right now.
Good. Now that you are completely present we can continue. The little exercise above can be of great use along your creative journey. Whenever you become distracted or find yourself faced with a problem in your screenplay, write out whatever is bothering you and then toss it. It brings you more intensely into the moment. It also allows you to be a little bit more objective and find solutions. The key to being a power house character generator is to be in the present and to allow your inner creative voice to guide you.
When I used to play professional sport as a youth I used to hate and love practice. Why?
I used to play professional water-polo. Now the reason I loved practice was because my team-mates and I got to try out new creative movements of play. We got to test and try new ways of playing and communicating as a team. Practice was the time to make mistakes and then correct them. So that by the time we came to a big match we were ready with a set of new creative plays. These new plays we could execute with ease and confidence because we had practiced them over and over again.
The reason I disliked practice was the fitness part of it. Don’t misunderstand me; I really appreciated the fitness I achieved from it. But actually doing it was sometimes hell.
Our coach used to set us up. We normally had an hour of match practice and then an hour of swimming training at the end. Our coach, being the sly bastard that he was, always set us up, every time. He would give us a set number of laps. First, slow laps for warm up. Then a few sprints. These were all punctuated with under-water laps. He would always finish us off with a few extra sprints and medleys. But when we thought it was all over and were getting out of the pool, he would suddenly change his mind and tell us to get back in. FOR A FINAL 10 LAP SPRINT. By this stage we had already given everything we had. And now we had to give 10 laps more. Most of us could barely get out of the pool at the end. On the day we always cursed him. But when it came to playing a match that went into overtime, we were always prepared, both mentally and physically. We normally won, not only because of our practiced play, and our ability to work as a team, but also because we had been stretched mentally and physically by those extra 10 sprints at the end of each practice.
In most forms of institutionalized learning, one is rarely stretched. The process is very much step by step, exactly as it is. All the answers are laid out for you in the syllabus. However, the way things are geared in all the Simple Life pages is to stretch you through active practice.
Look for the simple details. There is a comprehensive list of simple detailed questions to ask yourself when in the character generator process. These questions give your character immense depth and texture. The more texture they have, the easier it is to create situations of tension. Also the more thoroughly you think about the character and do the work on creating a history, the easier it is to create obstacles for the character when you are writing. Also it becomes easier to find the solutions that the character would look for.
Character is higher than intellect.
A great soul will be strong to live as well as think.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Character is higher than intellect.
Now from what we have covered on the last page we are going to use for this next exercise. Choose three people from history that you know something about. They may have been great leaders, healers, and business people. For me, I have always been fascinated with Great War time leaders like Napoleon and Winston Churchill. Also the shapers of the Renaissance like the Medici have always interested me. So I know something of these people.
Choose three people that you know something about. Don’t do any extra research on them for now. Just choose three people you are familiar with from history. If you struggle with people from history then look at three people from the present who you think are influential people. But only use this as a last resort. Don’t be lazy!
Take one hour, maximum, and write a character history on each person. So tonight might be Churchill, for example. Tomorrow night, Napoleon. And the following night, Lorenzo Medici.
Don’t do any extra research. If they are someone you are familiar with you should be able to use your imagination to fill in the gaps of their favourite colours, favourite food etc.
Have fun with the exercise. Allow what you know about them to inform what you right. But do not allow your imagination to be bound by facts only. Some of the character traits you find in these people that you know something about will later become potent tools as you start the character generator process for characters in your screenplay.
Finbar Kilcoran in association with
the Adventure Learning Generators of Magic
If you feel you would like to mentor or instruct in a creative short course or program, simply complete the Creative Project Ideas Mentor Application form.
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