Screenwriting: An Invisible Major Character Must Disappear

April 12, 2012 at 8:54 am

Screenwriting: An Invisible Major Character Must Disappear | Screenwriting Blog

SOMETIMES CHARACTERS YOU ENVISIONED JUST DON’T FIT…
YOUR VISION.

I’m currently working on a screenplay that has 4 main characters and I love it so far.  But that wasn’t always the case.  In the beginning, there was 5…

When I set out to outline the story, I incorporated a character that I felt needed to exist.  But he was a problem from the moment I typed his name.  You see, the other 4 characters have great stories and relationships with one another.  The fifth character was an outsider simply because I couldn’t find ways to fit him into their lives.  He never had anything interesting to do but I was stuck because he was eventually going to matter…

Still, that didn’t change the fact that he was dead weight.  He would appear to be part of the group but his dialogue wasn’t needed.  He really only talked because he was in the room and I felt like he had to.

When I finished the first act, I found the number of characters I introduced to be a tad confusing.

XTRA | Introducing Too Many Characters Too Quickly

I set out to make my character introductions more memorable while eliminating as many distractions as possible.  I quickly came to the realization that my beloved 5th character wasn’t needed.  I started coming up with creative ways to avoid writing him into the story and the story got a lot better.  It felt right.  As I began eliminating all traces of the character from my screenplay, things became more clear and focused.

The truth is, if a character feels forced or has nothing interesting to do, it’s probably time for the axe to fall.  I knew deep down the character wasn’t going to work.  That’s the advantage of a first draft.  I gave him a shot and he didn’t fit but at least I know definitively now.  It can be pretty hard to let go sometimes but you have to ask yourself an important question:

Does this make my screenplay better?

Moving forward, I’m happier with my simpler and more focused story.

And the journey continues.

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