Night of the Naked Dead!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Human Emotions in Scripts

FEBRUARY 21, 2017

Screenwriting is the art of crafting a movie into a blueprint so a director can interpret these instructions using their vision to make a good movie. Humanizing characters connect moviegoers to special characters.

Do you like End of the World movies? Have you watched Deep Impact, Armageddon, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012? These movies do a great job with humanizing characters to capture the essence of real life people in similar situations. In television, Tv writers are expected to craft characters in such a fashion that viewers will return back every week in anticipation of what will happen and how these characters will respond.

The Walking Dead (TWD) is a perfect example of humanizing characters to stimulate emotion. If done right, people will watch often and word-of-mouth will deliver new fans. As TWD seasons move forward, show fans become loyal followers. In every episode, there is heavy emphasis on character development. Have you noticed that zombies are now secondary characters on a show about the dead? This strategy enables the show writers to capture interest on unique characters we come to love.

In the movie world, Dawn of the Dead (2004) is a remake of the classic George Romero Dawn of the Dead released in the late 1970’s. The remake takes a group of polarizing characters into a mall. Zombies surround this mall, a memorable place they probably remember before changing into dead carnivores. As moviegoers, we find solace in watching these characters trying their best to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. At moments, we’re put on edge in climatic situations. Those we hate, we come to like. Those we like, they end up eventually dying.

Humanizing characters represent an enriching style of screenwriting. As screenwriters, we warm the hearts of people. We stimulate their inner desires through building connections. How we respond to events may differ from person-to-person. Why do we like characters in end of the world movies? We empathize with these real-life characters. We find them emotional satisfying. We’re drawn to their traits, their actions, their decisions.

Telling a great story involves understanding how people may react to such events. In the Titanic, Jack must save Rose from taking her life. As a first-class passenger and upper class person, Rose is stuck in a boring routine. We watch her character evolve into an actual rose. Jack becomes the change Rose needs to graduate into womanhood. Before this growth, Rose was dependent on her mother and fiancĂ©. Humanizing Rose required showing her weaknesses. She desired charismatic Jack, a spontaneous young man willing to travel the world to live life. Unlike Rose’s fiancĂ©, who is an uptight rich man, Jack enjoyed simple things. His drawings revealed a fascinating side to his experiences. Rose got stuck in her mother’s wants and desires, forcing her to follow strict rules.

Nonetheless, Titanic does a perfect job in conveying the wants and desires of Jack and Rose. Furthermore, the Titanic script maintains focus on the plot—keeping the audience drawn to this doomed ship awaiting its dark fate. We watch this Dreamliner ship in the days preceding its impending doom. All the audience can think about is Jack and Rose. They hoped there would be more time to unite these two lovers together in America. Unfortunately, most people who watched this disaster movie know the tragic movie ending.

Want to capture interest in your screenplay? Humanize your characters to connect moviegoers with their emotions. Touch their minds, warm their hearts. If screenwriters follow this script, they can/will write a powerful screenplay. We’re all unique creatures desiring more in this life. Even homeless people have goals. Our goal as screenwriters is to write a screenplay that makes sense. Infusing these screenplays with real life characters that move and talk like us could take a movie on a journey of a lifetime.

Humanizing characters put these people above the plot. Despite plot points to move scripts forward, the majority of attention is shifted toward characters with human emotions like ours. Screenwriters can rise above the plot through injecting their scripts with psychological disorders, bad traits, common interests and worries, and even internal goals and desires that won’t be revealed until the climax. A good practice session in developing intense characters is to watch movies that rely on humanized characters. In resolving conflict, we learn about people and their emotions. We enter the minds of these characters to save the day, save the world. Regardless of your personal execution as a screenwriter, choosing to humanize characters may capture powerful human emotion unlike plot-driven movies. Happy screenwriting!

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