Readers tell me that every character needs a background story but do they? - Page 4


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Thread: Readers tell me that every character needs a background story but do they?

  1. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Oh well when it comes to option #1, this is just what I wast told in my research of the industry, but they say to always have the script ready to go, when you pitch, cause if you do not have it ready to go, then it shows to them that you are not serious enough, if that's true.

    As for #2 and stop writing, start storyboarding, wouldn't I need to make the writing as close to perfect first, for the storyboards to hold together though, but also to get actors and crew interested, if they see a polished script first?

    #1 - No, not in this case. With your query, you're mainly trying to find out if they'd even be open to the concept itself. If they say yes, you send them a plot synopsis. If they say yes to that, and you get that far, then you can either send the script you have now, they will either accept it, or reject it, likely giving reasons why they rejected it. In which case you can adjust based on that. Or they dont give a reason, in which case you STILL know they're interested in the concept and plot synopsis, therefore you know you can resubmit to them later on.

    Normally it can be assumed that someone will like a script thats well written. However in your case, the subject matter is controversial to the point where you cannot assume people will want to take it on even if its written well and polished. In which case it makes sense to find out first if any agents/studios are interested in such a concept. If I was writing this rapey stuff, I wouldn't have even started the script proper before emailing and writing to agents to find out if this is even a thing that any studio will want to take on. I'd have just given them the plot synopsis.

    If every agent I email either doesnt respond or responds with "No fucking chance". Then I'll know I need to change things in order for it to be within an indie budget. I can write with that in mind.

    #2 If the storyboards arent holding together you change the script so it does hold together. This is why you're testing it in visual media in the first place. You can't just have the movie's imagery play out in your head and expect it to translate to real world visual media seamlessly. I guarantee some things in your "near perfect script" will have to be cut due to the limitations of the screen. Some things you will be describing in dialogue that would be clear via expressed visual language. But you won't know that unless you test it. Through role play. Through story board. You are not a novel writer. You're acting like one when you shouldn't. Nobody cares about a near perfect script. We care about a near perfect film. Don't be that guy who writes a "near perfect" script and then resists adapting and changing it during the process. That film maker who shuts down improv and insists on doing everything "as written". That doesn't impress actors.

  2. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Oh well when it comes to option #1, this is just what I wast told in my research of the industry, but they say to always have the script ready to go, when you pitch, cause if you do not have it ready to go, then it shows to them that you are not serious enough, if that's true.

    As for #2 and stop writing, start storyboarding, wouldn't I need to make the writing as close to perfect first, for the storyboards to hold together though, but also to get actors and crew interested, if they see a polished script first?
    If you are a first-time scriptwriter, in the event that you actually sell a script, the odds are they are going to buy your idea and have a veteran writer work it over.
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  3. #33
    Characters need depth and color commensurate with their role in the story. Main characters need more depth in order for your readers to invest emotion in them. That being said, a single, skillfully-written sentence can convey an incredible amount of color for lesser characters right in the body of the story itself.

  4. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Annoying kid View Post
    #1 - No, not in this case. With your query, you're mainly trying to find out if they'd even be open to the concept itself. If they say yes, you send them a plot synopsis. If they say yes to that, and you get that far, then you can either send the script you have now, they will either accept it, or reject it, likely giving reasons why they rejected it. In which case you can adjust based on that. Or they dont give a reason, in which case you STILL know they're interested in the concept and plot synopsis, therefore you know you can resubmit to them later on.

    Normally it can be assumed that someone will like a script thats well written. However in your case, the subject matter is controversial to the point where you cannot assume people will want to take it on even if its written well and polished. In which case it makes sense to find out first if any agents/studios are interested in such a concept. If I was writing this rapey stuff, I wouldn't have even started the script proper before emailing and writing to agents to find out if this is even a thing that any studio will want to take on. I'd have just given them the plot synopsis.

    If every agent I email either doesnt respond or responds with "No fucking chance". Then I'll know I need to change things in order for it to be within an indie budget. I can write with that in mind.

    #2 If the storyboards arent holding together you change the script so it does hold together. This is why you're testing it in visual media in the first place. You can't just have the movie's imagery play out in your head and expect it to translate to real world visual media seamlessly. I guarantee some things in your "near perfect script" will have to be cut due to the limitations of the screen. Some things you will be describing in dialogue that would be clear via expressed visual language. But you won't know that unless you test it. Through role play. Through story board. You are not a novel writer. You're acting like one when you shouldn't. Nobody cares about a near perfect script. We care about a near perfect film. Don't be that guy who writes a "near perfect" script and then resists adapting and changing it during the process. That film maker who shuts down improv and insists on doing everything "as written". That doesn't impress actors.
    Okay thanks. I was just told by other writers when reading on advice, is do not pitch an idea, unless you have a script ready to go, cause if you pitch and then they ask for the script right after, and you say it's not written yet, than it shows to them that you are not serious. Is that true then?

  5. #35
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    Back-story and development aren't really the same thing.

    Backstory - is their past, their history. Key moments in there lives and key people that shaped them today. Understanding those moments gives better incite to a character and can even change our perception of them. A character that just hates women and is negative about/towards them is just a sexist. But when you discover his mother beat him as a child, then his wife had numerous affairs behind his back you can understand why he hates women, even if you think he's wrong to hate all women because of two "bad eggs". "All women are bad" is his lie. His mother established that lie and his wife reinforced it. Not every character needs this kind of depth shown in the story, but the main character and the antagonist (if there is one) could do with it.

    Character Development - is how the character changes through the novel. How they develop. Maybe our women hating man learns not all women are cruel and to be distrusted. That's development. A coming to terms with wounds that haunt him and getting over them in development. Like a character arc but on a more emotional level.

    I hope that's correct anyway. I'm not experienced and new to writing and I only think it's fair to say that before people can my advice and it's wrong.

  6. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Amy-rose View Post
    Back-story and development aren't really the same thing.

    Backstory - is their past, their history. Key moments in there lives and key people that shaped them today. Understanding those moments gives better incite to a character and can even change our perception of them. A character that just hates women and is negative about/towards them is just a sexist. But when you discover his mother beat him as a child, then his wife had numerous affairs behind his back you can understand why he hates women, even if you think he's wrong to hate all women because of two "bad eggs". "All women are bad" is his lie. His mother established that lie and his wife reinforced it. Not every character needs this kind of depth shown in the story, but the main character and the antagonist (if there is one) could do with it.

    Character Development - is how the character changes through the novel. How they develop. Maybe our women hating man learns not all women are cruel and to be distrusted. That's development. A coming to terms with wounds that haunt him and getting over them in development. Like a character arc but on a more emotional level.

    I hope that's correct anyway. I'm not experienced and new to writing and I only think it's fair to say that before people can my advice and it's wrong.
    Yeah that makes sense. It's just the readers want to know the reasons why every single villain decided to join up in the group of villains. But it's only a screenplay for one movie so there isn't time to explain everyone's reason, is there?

  7. #37
    Unless the character's backstory is integral to the story then no... The lightest of thumbnails is all you need, and rarely that much.
    For shortcuts there are cliches and stereotypes. Use them sparingly unless it is a comedy.
    One thought on scripting. The more cast members the more expensive it is to make. Which is why so many series include two hander episodes. The more scenes that use the same scenery cuts costs. While a writer can have fun there is an executive who will be budgeting.
    Good luck


    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    After showing my script to some readers, they say that I could give this character more development, or this character, etc. But the screenplay is for a movie that cannot go over 2 hours long, max. They also keep trying to get me to give each of these characters a pay off, but not every character can have a pay off, can they? If I were to develop every single character with backgrounds for each, and give them each their own individual pay offs, it would be an entire miniseries. Do readers have a point though, that I need to this whilst still somehow keep it short enough?

  8. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Okay thanks. I was just told by other writers when reading on advice, is do not pitch an idea, unless you have a script ready to go, cause if you pitch and then they ask for the script right after, and you say it's not written yet, than it shows to them that you are not serious. Is that true then?
    Normally it is true. But dude, you're writing an incel rape script as your first feature length screenplay.



    You went to film school, yes? Ask your tutor what they think you should do with your concept and plot synopsis/script. Hell go on twitter and ask a bunch of agents about what they expect of scripts that deal with the concept of rape.

    They're likely to answer you there because they can tell other writers what they expect while they're answering you. So they save themselves alot of submissions that they don't want. Tweet them and frame it that way.

    Or if you're putting all your eggs in this basket and going for broke, query them and just send what you have if they ask. Go on sites like The blacklist https://blcklst.com/#aspiring_screenwriters, and/or IMDB pro, upload it/share the idea around and go for broke.

    What you don't want to do is spend another ten years "perfecting" it, then try to sell it, only to get rejected at every turn, and then get all depressed about it. It looks like it might go that way. You can only tinker with a script so much before it doesn't improve anymore because you'll find yourself with the details and minutiae of a writer of 20 years, but the core structure of a newbie. Its very difficult to make radical changes after you've been working on it so long. Thats why you come on this forum, asking questions over and over, about little tidbits of your story. Like, "If every character needs a backstory". You keep second guessing yourself because the core structure has long since turned to concrete in your mind and you are hyper-focusing on the details. You sense that there's something wrong about your script and you hope that if you tinker with the details enough at the level of lines and minor plot points (like minor characters backstories) that it will eventually create a masterpiece.

    It won't though. As the problems lie way up stream. As a first script guy, unless you're some genius, you're bound to have problems in the core structure. major characterization and thematic concept. Listen to John Truby on rewriting (youtube).

    Lets say you give every single character a backstory. Are you aware of the repercussions on the structure of your script? Thats not the kind of question anyone who was close to turning professional would ask. If you're just trying to reach perfection at this point and you've essentially finished this draft then you really should leave it alone, and work on the next script.

    But you won't will you? You'll keep wanting to perfect this one almighty script where it'll have the advice from all the writing forums you've frequented (at least 15), with all this advice from prose novelists, how can your movie script fail? When it's "perfect" you'll walk into the studio like a King Pin, put that script on the table, and no one will be able to resist. They'll hire you on the spot and get Al Pacino as the cop.
    Last edited by Annoying kid; March 29th, 2020 at 11:42 AM.

  9. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    It's just the readers want to know the reasons why every single villain decided to join up in the group of villains.
    At some point you'll need to get past this hurdle of wanting to satisfy readers whenever they make a suggestion/critique.

    Readers will always (ALWAYS) find things wrong with a story. It's just the nature of subjectivity.

    If you had the power to live forever, and you were able to rewrite this story for the next thousand years, constantly adjusting based on reader feedback? Guess what: readers would STILL find things wrong with it.

    Because readers don't all like the same thing. And they don't all share the same creative ideas.

    Trying to rewrite a story based on reader feedback can (and often does) turn into a never-ending loop. The only way to extricate yourself from it is to realize that not all reader suggestions need to be considered.

    I'd only consider them if there's a legitimate problem with the story that needs fixing.

    A comment like: "This part doesn't make sense, because the character is in a car here, when they were in a truck in the previous scene" <-- That's feedback that should definitely be addressed. It points out a logical problem with the story.

    On the other hand, a comment like, "I want to know why every single villain joined the gang" <-- That's not a logical problem with the story. That's just a reader expressing their own specific desire.

    If you keep considering such things, you'll just be trying to change your story based on the opinions and preferences of others. (Which, like I said, is a cycle that could go on forever, with no logical end. Ever.)
    Last edited by Kyle R; March 29th, 2020 at 04:21 PM.

  10. #40
    Oh okay thanks. Yes for sure I don't want to go around in circles. Some of the readers advice I do find to be contradictory. Not all, but some...

    One of the things I was told is I make my villains perhaps too sympathetic and no one wants to see a villain learn a lesson, or have an arc. They want them remain an evil threat, that has to be stopped throughout the entire plot. Is that true, do you think as to what most readers want?

    But I also find this to be contradictory, cause they want each villain to have their own separate motivations, and reasoning, but at the same time, they do not want any humanized qualities.
    Last edited by ironpony; March 31st, 2020 at 08:17 PM.

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