Weekly Updates

Audio Version

  • Writing help: A quick reminder that there are plenty of services for writing support on the U of R website: https://www.uregina.ca/student/ssc/virtual-writing-hub/writing-tutoring.html
  • As mentioned on Slack, I did some research on using screens in scripts. I liked playing it in the slugline and adding the location. A similar strategy would be how you would treat FLASHBACKS. Also, notice how this moves away from the INSERT, which is attached to old school scripts and not as clean and modern as newer stuff.
My favourite example of using screens.

Return to Film 210 Main Page

Audio Version

Character and World-Building

One of my concerns about this topic is that a lot of time is spent doing busy work or work designed to do what we should be doing—writing the script.

Things like character outlines can waste time if not used effectively.

Our job is to tell the story, and by showing, not telling. Like what I said when we were working on character descriptions, unless it's on the screen, it doesn't matter.

The wonderful thing, though, is that we can show a full range of character and world through the tools of WOARO, through want, obstacle, action, and response.

How does this apply to characters and world-building?

A character outline can help flesh out your character. The idea is by going through a list of attributes and filling them out.

An example of character outlines.

My concern is that it often seems like busywork. Some of these details may not matter in the course of the story.

More importantly, the cast and crew are going to bring their ideas to the table.

What the cast and crew can bring to the table

Using the tools we've been developing

Since WOARO is a reflection of being human, many aspects of your characters are going to be defined by these simple questions:

  • What does your character want (internal and external)?
  • What stands in their way (internal and external)?
  • What actions do they take, and how do they respond?

These questions communicate and define your characters—right from the beginning on the very first pages of your script (and if you take internal wants and obstacles, long before)

Placing your characters in action forces you (and them) to make choices about who they are. Whether you outline beforehand or work on it the day of writing, it is ALWAYS about making choices.

And the last character writing superpower you've been developing: Character descriptions.

The two questions to always ask:

  • What do my characters want, and what stands in their way?
  • What actions do they take to get it?

Want and Obstacles

Want tells us what your character's external goals are, but also their inner drives.

The outer goals are what drive the story and take actions that define them. But they also have inner drives, the deep desires that extend over a lifetime. These are the big goals of life.

If you can build a strong, defined want, it will create identification for the reader and viewer. And putting obstacles in the way of achieving that want can help develop empathy.

External obstacles draw us into the story, but inner obstacles (fear, regret, doubt, and ghosts of the past) draw us into the character.

Lastly, a character's wants and obstacles also define our allies, friends, and enemies.

Wants and Obstacles that are reflections of character.

Action and Response

It's important to remember that the actions a character takes or how they respond (what they do or say) defines them.

Action is always done with the intention to confront change—either to stop it from happening or to create it. But it is also done with a choice. Between every action, every response to stimulus, we have the moment to think and decide our course of action. These help build your character.

Also, remember that actions depend on specificity. Knowing exactly how your character loves, hates, defends, and responds defines them.

And lastly, if the field of your character's actions changes, then it represents character change. For example, love that turns to hate.

Actions and responses that are a reflection of character.

World Building

How do we build worlds in a script? Do we use lots of description and explanation? Of course not.

First, we can use that opening descriptive introduction and the physical objects a character uses to introduce us to this world.

But we can also bake good world-building right into the WOARO mix. The wants and obstacles can define the world, operating in relation to the environment around them. And the actions and responses of your characters to the world around them can further reveal the world.

And remember that every character has an opportunity to reveal information about this world.

Mad Max as an example of world-building through WOARO

Another way to think about this is the axiom show, don't tell. For example, if you have seen any of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, you will often see large statues covering the landscape. They communicate a deep history to the world, without telling us the specifics. Think about how you can reveal that deephistory to your characters and worlds without simply telling us anything.

Film 210 - Week 9 Exercise - Character and World Building

In 2-3 pages, write a script that builds a character or world (or a small hint of one at least) through the use of WOARO. If you or your characters start telling in any manner then you have done this exercise wrong—show, don't tell!

Have fun with this one!

Marking Criteria:

  • Does it achieve the purpose of this week's assignment?
  • Proper screenplay format (including active, present tense; sluglines; character introductions) and spelling, punctuation, grammar (5 mistakes allowed per script).
  • Proper use of WOARO. A character with a want must reach an outcome, either getting it or being incapable of getting it by the end.
  • Proper page count of the assignment.

Due: Sunday, November 1, 2020 at midnight ( Saskatchewan time ).

Return to Film 210 Main Page