Falling in Love With Your Characters

September 16, 2015 at 12:37 pm (Uncategorized)

DSC04457“I think it all comes back to the core idea of grounding your characters in an emotional reality that the audience can relate to. And if you can do that, it gives you license to have tremendous amounts of fun and wink at the audience in a way that doesn’t make them feel like they’re being patronized. We’re all taking it as seriously as we would take a heavy drama. And that tone is critical because you are asking the audience to suspend its belief and you are asking them to jump into this world and say ‘it’s crazy, but it’s totally real’. So hopefully when you’re watching the show, the reaction the audience is having is ‘yes it’s crazy, but man if I were in that situation I think I’d probably be reacting the same way’. If we can get the audience to that place, then they will accept anything. I think that’s our job as screenwriters in anything that we do – we’re asking the audience to suspend disbelief and to go on an emotional ride and to say ‘I accept the reality of this world. Even though it couldn’t possibly happen actually, I’m in it, I believe it, and I feel like it’s happening.’

But mostly it’s about letting your inner kid play around and have fun and be wide-eyed in wonder and experience awe and experience the joy of story twists and turns and fall in love with characters…and if we feel like we can genuinely make that happen, then we say yes. But it’s a process for us in that we have to really believe we can do that. Otherwise it’s not worth the time, because it will be painful for people who loved it to feel it didn’t meet their expectation and it will be painful for us because we don’t want to be the guys who did that to anybody. Especially to ourselves.”

~Alex Kurtzman, as quoted in Creative Screenwriting’s A Year in Quotes series

 

Now, your first question is probably who the heck is Alex Kurtzman? Short answer is he’s the co-creator of FRINGE, co-writer of STAR TREK, TRANSFORMERS and COWBOYS & ALIENS. He’s done a lot of other writing, a lot of producing and was the executive producer of THE PROPOSAL. Yes, Alex Kurtzman gave Betty White center stage. Let’s just say when Mr. Kurtzman gives advice, I’m listening hard.

I loved the first part of his quote as I’m a fan of Michael Hauge and his whole thing is about eliciting emotion from the reader (audience). Thinking of emotion as a way to ask your reader to suspend disbelief and jump into your world is a great way to put it, and well worth some ceiling gazing in the future, but the gold here is this line: But mostly it’s about letting your inner kid play around and have fun and be wide-eyed in wonder and experience awe and experience the joy of story twists and turns and fall in love with characters…and if we feel like we can genuinely make that happen, then we say yes. That, my friends, is the blue ribbon. Read it again. Read it out loud. See where your voice naturally stresses a word and pay attention to those beats. Feels good, doesn’t it?

Thank you, Mr. Kurtzman.

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4 Comments

  1. Anne said,

    Also a huge fan of Michael Hauge here. And Star Trek.

    • Pamela Cayne said,

      I’ve been listening to his seminars again–dang, that man is good!

  2. Curt said,

    Great post, and the photo? Win!

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