Act One

start-button-etbscreenwritingThe Beginning Of The Story

In the beginning of the story or screenplay, the Fear drives the character to create his or her Mask. The Mask is not the character’s real self, it is the personna the character uses to hide, deny or “mask” his or her fear.  The character is reasonably confident that he or she is hiding the fear very well.

The movie audience meets the character’s false persona at the beginning of the story and makes certain assumptions about the character. These will be proven wrong.  Something happens to upset the character’s balance or to initiate some kind of change in the character’s life or situation.  Suddenly, it is just a little more difficult coping with or managing the fear.

Every story or script starts with a flawed character driven by his or her fear. It is a mistake to make a character too good, too likable or too self-aware at the beginning of the film or television series. The character has no place to go. There is no real journey and little room for change or transformation.

The Want

The character immediately identifies something he or she desires or wants. The character begins to put all of his or effort into obtaining some very particular concrete, and often, selfish or self-centered goal.

This goal is something real, graspable and very tangible. It is something the character can obtain or acheive physically: seduce the woman, sell the stock, solve the crime, win the tournament, reveal the mystery, get the promotion etc. It is NOT an abstract or amorphous general desire.

The character hurls pell mell after this concrete goal. A gap opens or a turning point event occurs and there is no going back. A door closes behind the character. He or she is compelled to move forward in determined pursuit of the want. The character is then propelled into the Second Act or middle of the story (where myriad complications ensue.)

The Character’s Want is:

– A clear simple ego-driven goal.

– A physical embodiment of the character’s selfish or self-centered objective.

– An objective or object that is real, concrete and graspable.

– An objective or object that must eventually be surrendered along with the character’s Strongest Traits.

Character MapThe want is always an actual “thing.” It is something specific that could be obtained with a bit of concerted effort. For example: a new car, money to pay the rent, a girlfriend, the prize trophy, etc.

The character’s Want is NOT an abstract concept. For example: be a better person, be a better parent, become more tolerant, become more forgiving, be more honest, trustworthy or responsible.

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