Something’s gotta change

I’ve read a few scripts recently that made me realise that the thing that was missing was change.  The characters might be interesting, lots of events happened, but in the end, no one seemed remotely affected by all that plot that was being thrown at them.  John Yorke (Head of BBC Drama Production & New Talent) used this analogy: ‘The King dies, then the Queen dies’ is plot and not very interesting.  ‘The King dies then the Queen dies of a broken heart’ is story, it’s grabbed my attention already because the King dying has changed things for another character. 

As audiences we want to see our characters go on a journey, to be affected, challenged, changed by what happens.  To be faced with choices and dilemmas and in the decisions they make so show us who they are.  We need to be drawn into the story and the characters, we need to be made to care, and as the writer that’s your job. So make sure that cracking plot is really a great story and is there because it’s doing something to your character, creating a change that will take your character on a journey.  Of course, that’s all easy enough in a feature film, the tricky thing about writing for continuing drama is that you need to take your characters on a journey without fundamentally changing them – once you complete their journey their story is over and it’s time for them to go – but that’s for another day!

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