All Hail the Character Bio
So I've been wrestling with a fairly high-concept thriller for the past few months.
My script group is both helpful and unhelpful in this respect. It's helpful because deadlines are keeping me writing.
It's unhelpful because I've been fairly busy otherwise, so writing time that should have been geared toward brainstorming the basics of my script were instead focused on churning out pages before they were ready to be churned out.
Which is a helpful process in and of itself. Knocking out pages, and getting great feedback on what's working and what isn't, has really helped me figure out the essence of the first 45 pages of the script here, which is all I have written so far -- though I know where the script is going, in general.
But those 45 pages still need reworking.
So the last two days, I devoted about 4 hours to not typing, at all. Instead, I just thought about my characters.
Which is usually basic no-shit stuff. Story is character.
But my past scripts tended to be stories following one main character, which means generally I'd thought a lot about that one character just in putting the script together.
This is more of an ensemble tale. A half dozen major characters, and a definite focus on character despite it being a thriller.
Oddly, my back-assward approach to writing the script, churning out pages and then really digging into my characters, really seems to be paying benefits. Because now I went into my character bios knowing a lot more about these characters, through what they have been doing in the scenes that I wrote, than if I'd tried to do it before writing page 1.
But the best thing is that, even as I sat down writing these character bios, these characters surprised me.
And spoke to me.
Things started coming out of my pen about these characters that I'd never thought about, but which serve the script well.
It's not rocket science, but it's a step too many writers neglect. Including me.
Think about your characters. Write their stories. Ponder their needs, their desires, their dramatic needs, their frustrations.
Because it's the real meat of a screenplay and (take it from someone who knows) most writers aren't thinking very deeply into their characters at all.