THE STORY IS THE THING
(The making of NEW YORK'S BURNING the motion picture)
by Ron Riley
When I began writing the screenplay entitled: NEW YORK'S BURNING, I
created the principal character, long before I committed anything to paper.
Now, I didn't know then, how I was going to use this person, or even what
would justify his existence.
Here I was, with my mental typewriter, constructing a person, piece by piece.
You may have guessed that I've been influenced by J.R.R Tolkien the author
of LORD OF THE RINGS. I read his books, long before the motion picture
was made and came away from that reading experience impressed.
What impressed me the most, wasn't the main storyline, but the background
story lines of the characters that flickered in and out of the main event. We
tend to call that the character's Bio. Tolkien had a detailed history on these
people and even went so far as to make up stories about them.
So I resolved to incorporate that method and make up stories about all of the
characters in my screenplays. Making your characters into real live
creditable people that the audience could relate to, is what you have to do.
By doing that, you no longer have, just a villain dressed in black, tying a pretty
girl to the railroad tracks.
Now you have a villain, who doesn't have to be dressed in black, for the
audience to identify as a mean, low down, scoundrel. You've created a
villain with a personality. A depth of character. You should know by now, that
not everybody who do bad things, have no past life or history worth
They didn't just drop into the story out of the sky, or were thrown in, just to
make things interesting. There were events in their lives that made them
they way they are, by the time we meet them in our stories. Let's face it. All
of your characters have to have more going for them than just their parts in
the principal story.
You may have heard the expression, "Wheels within wheels". That is what
you have to create, when you write. All of those wheels. Someone is going
to ask, why a particular character did this or that. You can explain that
character with ease.
Screenplays don't go into details in the way that novels do. It may be
important, not to expose your characters to the reinvention of the actors and
directors (that is, if you can help it).
It's always advisable to supply the cast with a little background on your
characters. It helps in their interpretations.
Now you have more than one story to write. And why not?
After all, the story is the thing.
WRITING TIPS FOR THE NEW SCREENPLAY WRITER
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