Tales From the Script: Part 5 (Voices Carry)
When Lesley and I initially started writing our script, we were writing it with the intent to find a local production company to shoot it for us with us in the leads. Once we changed our minds on that, we dream cast it so that we’d both be writing towards the same vision.
I know a lot of writers say they don’t do this, but it helped me a lot. Like with writing jokes, most of it happens for me while I’m lying in bed at night unable to sleep. I’ll just lay there with ideas racing through my head until I have to jump up and find a notebook. Sometimes ideas hit me first thing in the morning, which honestly, beating the alarm to jump out of bed with some creative inspiration is a great way to start the day!
Writing with someone in mind helped me find the character’s voice fairly easily. Final Draft has a profile on Facebook where every day they have some sort of writing tip or question. Recently they posed a question asking if you were to block out the names of the characters in your script, would you still be able to tell who they are?
Once we hammered out our first draft, we assigned each other characters and we went through the script focusing on each piece of those lines trying to make sure there was a flow. One thing that came from this that I liked was I had one of the characters often times refer to another by a nickname. I think this was a nice little touch to show that they had some sort of history. The unfortunately short lived television show The Middle Man did this too. The lead was named Wendy Watson. Her partner called her Dub Dub. A little touch like that was nice because it not only showed a little bit of familiarity, but it was so out of character for the straight laced Middle Man to use a nickname that it really humanized him. It gave his character a little more depth.
Another thing Lesley and I did that helped was we had our friends over to read through the script assigning them different roles. Some lines didn’t flow as smoothly out of other mouths, so as we did the readthru I took notes on how the actor initially wanted to read a line.
I tend to flip sentences. Not like Yoda, but a little bit like that. Right now, I’m totally blanking on an example. Hmm. I guess that was an example in itself. Where a lot of people may have said “I’m totally blanking on an example right now.” I lead with the “right now”. I think I’m better at that now. A long time ago a friend asked me where I originally hail from because he found my sentence structure so foreign.
So there you go. That’s a little insight in our process in trying to give our characters unique voices. Does anyone else have any tips?
Posted on August 24, 2012, in More Misadventures! and tagged characters, comedy, mike bobbitt, off the mike, offthemike, screenplay, script writing, the middle man, the middleman, voices, wendy watson, Writing. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.
Write a complete biography for every main character in the script. This might be way obvious but I wish somebody had told me early on in the process. Won’t ever hit the page but helps the writer really delve into who the character is for their (the writers) benefit. Where were they born? Parents divorce? Anything crazy in the childhood? (Show me one that hasn’t) Right handed or left handed? Favorite foods, color? Favorite movie? What in their past factors into decisions they make today? The guy absolutely hates….birds. Why–what happened? If they have nick-names, how did they get them? Again, you don’t have to write it into the script but you should decide how they got them. To me it’s really fun to create these characters. I was told to be careful not to incorporate my idiosyncrasies into them as subtely they just become me.
And that’s fun for no one.
Love the writing–keep plugging. Just don’t make the chick’s