One thing I’ve noticed increasingly over the years is, once you’ve nailed down your structure, *everybody* wants a piece of your main character and what they get up to. If a reader does not feel they can say much about your actual craft, they’ll make all kinds of assertions, both good and bad.
Here is some of my feedback on a particular character and her journey (note these are all about the SAME script):
“[She] is a compelling character – especially because she sabotages herself and is her own worst enemy.”
“I couldn’t relate to [her], because she makes things difficult for herself so much: I doubted anyone would do that.”
“I found myself really caring about whether [she and the love interest] would get together.”
“I didn’t care whether [she and the love interest] got together or not: she seems a bit of a nutter and he a sap.”
So who’s right?
As it goes, none of them and all of them – because above are OPINIONS. Sure, some of them got what I was going after with this character; others didn’t. But then, if the film were made, some people will like it and others won’t. End of.
In this age of Po3, peer feedback, script readers etc we sometimes rely on the feedback of others TOO MUCH. We forget there is another very, very important part of this process:
I *know* what I’m going for in this script and with this character. She does divide opinion. That doesn’t mean she’s a crap character – it means she is interesting enough to inspire REACTION. In this age of “don’t care” characters – especially the female variety who are too often facilitators for male emotion or hotties who kick ass – this can only be a good thing.
So next time a reader or feedback-giver HATES your character, ask yourself this:
Is it because something is found wanting in the actual characterisation? If so, what?
Or is it because who that character is doesn’t *fit* in that reader’s worldview?
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