Sunday, June 20, 2010

Writing Strong Characters

Lions for Lambs
with Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, and Tom Cruise

I find it useful to analyze movies to discover which writing
techniques add to the quality of a story.

I found myself drawn to every main character in
this film and soon discovered it was due to the passion
with which they held to their beliefs.

First, we have The Senator:
He is committed to winning the war in Afghanistan.
He tries to convince the news reporter that his new
initiative will put the U.S. back on top in the war.
As the story develops, we also wonder if this
passion is more about his desire to become president
one day. Regardless, no one can argue with his
dedication to winning the war, no matter what is motivation.

Next, we have The Reporter:
She has been reporting the news for forty years.
Her station had sold out and become more business
oriented, but we see her conviction to do the right
thing with this story. She doesn't want to be
used by another politician. She is once again passionate
about reporting the real story.

I cried over The Two Soldiers:
They were college students who wanted to fight
for their country and then come back to make
a difference. They are good friends
and likable. They gave up graduate school to do what they
believed to be the right thing. Their passion put their
lives on the line.

The Professor tried to talk the two soldiers
out of enlisting. This man's passion has him trying
to mold the minds of young people he believes can make
a difference. His newest challenge is...

The College Student: He is intelligent and passionate
about his beliefs, but he becomes disillusioned
when he decides all politicians sold out.
This student's apathy, at the moment, is what provides
the contrast we need to see just how passionate the
rest of the cast is in their belief systems.

Whether we agree with each character or not,
we know they want to make a difference in the world.
We may even begin to wonder if we make a
difference in our own lives.
Are we making a difference with our stories?
When you can get your readers to ask the deep
questions, then you have done your job as
a writer.

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