Is character important in a story? Or is the plot more important? Does it only matter what happens to the characters, or what they do – or does it matter who they are and what’s happened to them before matter?
I’ve been reading more about story – in particular screenwriting. There’s a part of me would like to try it sometime, but for now it’s a helpful way to consider more about how stories work – and why they matter.
In “Story” Robert McKee makes the point that neither are more important than they other because without each other they don’t function.
Which I think is fair enough. Do you?
This caught my attention when reading yesterday:
“True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure – the greater the pressure, the truer the choice [is] to the character’s essential nature”
Doing what needs to be done
A storyteller works hard to create a character, building their personality and helping the audience create empathy, sympathy or a connection of some sort. They have the great challenge of making sure we know only the things about them to know what they’re like so that we are invited into the story.
So when telling a story, character matters as much as plot.
Developing their identity doesn’t come at the cost of your story bringing to life their current transformation. Nope it’s part of the mix in why the story matters. The events are crucial to bring about change – and we need to know the context of the change that’s taking place, right?
In our story
Our character develops through time – often unseen to others. And at times unseen by us. And there’s always the risk that without some intentional development, our character might not turn out the way we hope. Or we don’t realise it can be any different.
I sometimes think there’s a tension between “it’s just who I am” and “I can be anything I want to be”.
My story continues
As I’ve been a little quiet on the internet recently, for a number of reasons, I’ve been challenging why I started this work in the first place – what are my motives.
You see, I firmly believe that a person’s character matters. Who they are is as important as what they do (because in my mind they are completely linked). I get a bit pert
So as there’s been some additional pressure in these recent days, there’s also been a little work on my character. Not hours of navel gazing, just an awareness of what’s happening, and the reasons why – and trying some steps to avoid it.
I guess part of that is understanding where I am, who I’m called to be and what the next step is to get there – all starts with a little more being and less always doing. And hopefully for my children – a little more grace and less grump.
Does character matter?
A lot of people say “what happens behind closed doors doesn’t impact their work-life”. If anything the events of the last few months – #metoo and other things mean exactly the opposite. Who you are is inextricably linked to what you do.
What do you think? How do you build your character?