Question Six

darth-vader-etbscreenwritingThe Character’s Dark Side

Write the answer to Question Six underneath the Strongest Traits on the diamond.

Question Six: Think of someone you cannot abide. This is someone you know well or someone you’ve observed briefly— it is a person who has actually passed through your life and not an historical or celebrity figure. When you met or observed this person, the hackles on your neck rose and you had a visceral response of intense dislike. What were the traits that this person had that set your teeth on edge?

This answer is a list of traits that make up the character’s Dark Side.

A character dislikes most in others what he or she potentially dislikes most in him or her self. The seeds of destruction inside the character resonate when the character sees bad behavior in others. This behavior, witnessed in others, produces a flash of anger and intense dislike. It is a visceral response of negative identification coming from deep inside the character.

Does the character fall to the Dark Side?

The Dark Side is the place to which the antagonist lures the character. Remember that classic cheesy moment in action adventure films when the antagonist leans across the table and says: “You and I are more alike than you want to admit.” If the antagonist and the protagonist share the same fear then this is psychologically truth. And, in fact, the character’s own Dark Side is often the Mask of the antagonist.

The Character’s Dark Side is:

– The seeds of evil or disaster deep inside the character.

– The collection of traits that the character dislikes most in others (and would despise most in him or herself).

– How the character sinks into his or her lowest, most selfish and/or worst self.

– The end result of clinging to the Strongest Traits and failing to make the Leap of Faith.

– This is the type of person the antagonist is calling the character to become.

Character MapWhen a character repeatedly falls into the traps of the Trouble Traits and tries to compensate by relying more heavily on the Strongest Traits the character cannot make the Leap of Faith. Instead, he or she goes round and round driven (and eventually is consumed) by his or her fears.

When we live in our Mask driven by our Fear we become the thing we hate. When a character becomes a hostage to fear he or she inevitably falls to the Dark Side. This is the second possible alternative ending to a screenplay. It is the definition of tragedy. Click Here to go to this other possible ending to the story.

Continuing the Mapping Process

Congratulations. You’ve logged all your answers onto the Character Map and now have an understanding of the shape of the process. We’ll continue to look at your responses as if you were a character in a screenplay or teleplay as we explore further how the Character Map works.

Are you ready to move on to the next step? If so, I’ll show you how to build a script from your Character Map information. You’ll learn how to use each part of the Character Map to construct your screenplay or teleplay and test its emotional clarity

All story structure should come from character. Film structure is not a stack of plot points that the character climbs. Character defines action. Character is film structure.

Once you’ve completed the mapping process from beginning to end, you can take apart the diagram and re-structure it as a non-linear narrative, a feature film, a sit-com or a one-hour drama.

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