Did you know that, in many ways, the art of making movies (visual storytelling) is often similar to the art of writing? How the director and director of photography choose to portray a story by way of camera is, believe it or not, comparable to some extent with writing books. And that is what I will be doing in this post: showing the similarities in the psychology of camera storytelling (movies) and storytelling by way of written word (your favorite book, for example). This similarity may stem from the fact that Storytelling is a universal art, developed over the millennia of mankind. Movies and the written word are merely different categories of storytelling, so it makes sense that there would be many similarities between the two. I will show you just a few of them in this post.
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Yesterday, Hannah Heath and I went to see the anime Your Name. It was released in Japan in 2016 and it went over so well, they wisely decided to release it in the United States also. It got a whopping 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That, and the fact that it was about a body swap (a concept I’d always dreamed of experiencing or writing about) ultimately helped me in deciding to go. The trailer looked pretty too, so overall, I was pretty stoked. It should be a fairly good movie, right?
Wrong. Oh, I was so wrong.
It was AMAZING.
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Your plot is ready to go. You have a protagonist, an antagonist, a secondary character, an old mentor, a love interest, a traitor, an opposed parent, a jealous sibling, and an intelligent talking horse named Phillip. Hopefully, by the time you sit down to start writing the first chapter of your first draft, you have a general idea of what your cast of characters is like. Well at least you’ll know the gender of your main character. Ideally.
I believe the most important thing that will help you achieve a well developed story is a well developed cast of characters; the story is about those characters, after all. Probably the most crucial question to ask when developing a character is “what are the character’s motives?” The protagonist’s motives alone will drive the plot forward, but when you add the antagonist’s desires, the traitor’s secrets, the mentor’s wishes, along with the protagonist’s motives, the story will automatically become so much more detailed and complex. And complexity is a good thing. Not only will it make the reader think, but it will make each character believable: all their trials, emotions, fails, and triumphs will be real, thus drawing the reader into a deeper level of identifying with each of them. It may be scary at first to think that strangers who happen to be reading your story will connect with your babies if you do a good job, but if your readers don’t connect, what is your story worth? Without a developed cast of characters, it will be hard to connect with them, thus we will feel nothing at their fails, triumphs, or emotions, and thus the message or theme of the story you want to convey through your characters will never be understood by your readers.
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