Archive | March, 2018

Thinkin’ About Character

1 Mar

During the character unit, we looked at a few different methods and systems for finding and/or thinking about the “seed” of your character–their inner them-ness that drives them through the story.

Most of these feature a positive and negative idea working against one another.


The Misbelief:

from Story Genius by Lisa Cron

Driving Desire: the character’s ultimate, specific, desire.

Misbelief: a belief the character that was true when they learned it, but is false. They see it as a key insight they were lucky to figure out, but it holds them back.

Case study: Zuko

  • Driving Desire: capture the avatar to regain his honor
  • Misbelief: honor comes from his father’s approval; gaining honor does not require acting honorably.

Case study: Toph

  • Driving Desire: prove her strength
  • Misbelief: strength means never needing others


The Ghost

from The Anatomy of Story by John Truby, as explained by JustWrite

Desire: the character’s desire.

Ghost: something from the character’s past that haunts them in the present, an “open wound” that is the source of their weakness and holds them back.

Case study: Aang

  • Desire: have fun
  • Ghost: running away from responsibility ended in disaster for him and the world last time, and he must not let it happen again.


The Grand Passion

from Beginnings: Setting a Story in Motion by Michael Arndt

Grand Passion: what the character loves most, can be a thing, person, role, feeling etc; what defines them.

Flaw: their Grand Passion taken too far. A negative trait that comes out of the positive thing that defines them.

Case study: Katara

  • Grand Passion: waterbending. Katara’s actions are driven by her love of waterbending and her desire to master the skill.
  • Flaw: Katara’s passion to learn drives her jealousy of Aang, pushes her to steal the waterbending scroll, and later to briefly explore bloodbending.


The Basics

elements repeated from ATLA – the Delicacy of Character

Want: the desire pushing them forward

Fear: the fear holding them back

Case study: Sokka

  • Want: to be a good leader, live up to the responsibility placed on him.
  • Fear: that his is not worthy.