Thursday, 31 July 2008

Red Planet Progress - Working on Characters

I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front because I've been having deep, meaningful discussions with some very strange characters. Most worrying is they have all come out of my head.

It's the stage I've reached on my Red Planet project. So what have I been doing.

1) I worked out what I wanted the series to be about. Not the detailed plot but the underlying theme. Usually I try to do this backwards. Write the story then try and dig for the theme. This time I did it the other way round. Don't know if that's normal or if I will do it again but it is working for this one so I'm not complaining.

2) I then considered the tone and genre. This was very fluid for quite a while and to be honest it didn't stop changing until much further down this list. Currently I am settled in a very dark horror. Yep I'm going for the 9pm slot but I have to confess that the slot fitted the story I wanted to tell rather than my identifying that was what the commissioners were looking for. Nice to see the latest comments from Laura Mackie though.

3) At the same time as (1) and (2) I knocked about a few characters. Some had been sitting around for a while, moaning that I hadn't used them in anything. Way too needy so I locked them away in the big, studded chest again. They'll soon give up screaming. I then went hunting and came home with some brand new ones.

I decided to have a max of 6 characters after studying some of my favourite returning series. These are the ones that appear in most, if not all episodes. A protagonist, an antagonist, two other main characters close to them and two satellite characters.

I love these characters and can't wait to start writing for them. I think this is a good sign.

4) I've written the backstory for the series and for each character. Some of this will appear at different stages, including some that feeds into the series climax but a lot will never appear at all. It helps me see the characters better and makes sure I really do know my story.

I then bounced it all off Dave so he could ask Why does A feel like that about B? Why would C do that? Where's the contradiction in the character (see Lucy's post on that one). I've done this before on courses. The most fun way is to get someone to interview you while you are the character. They don't need to be writers, just nosy. It can be a bit painful when you think you've got the character sorted but I find it really useful. And I can pretend I'm a brilliant actor at the same time.

Interestingly it was the protagonist that showed the most holes. The first character to be found and the drive behind the whole story. Because of this her motivation and behaviour had to be spot on. It wasn't. So more talking to my invisible friend while I pottered around the shops.

Now to get down to the nuts and bolts story. Lots of work still to do before passing it out to others for a good grilling.


Colin McBride said...

Good to hear you've been getting to grips with it, Rach. Best of luck with it. Think I've just about got my SF idea into the shape that I want it. Now all I have to do is write up the outline and I'll be just about there.

Rach said...

Sounds like you are much further on than me. I've spent the past few days tuning characters a bit more and brainstorming the series arc.

Now got to put those ideas in some sort of order and be realistic about what I can fit in 6x60min episodes.