Frea Interprets Vonnegut — Rule #3
So...I’m going to rant about Season Three, big surprise. But I had the biggest problem with this season, and for so many reasons. The main one being: I had not a freaking clue what Sarah Walker wanted. She didn’t seem to want Chuck. She didn’t really seem to want Shaw. She didn’t want to murder Shaw over trying to steal her dessert in Fake Name, which really confused me, as people have lost fingers for less in Frea-ville. I remember watching for weeks and weeks and wanting to shout, “WHAT DO YOU WANT, WOMAN?” at her.
I didn’t. Instead, I wrote Fates. Sarah Walker, this is your fault.
Rule #2 and Rule #3 are tied together. Your characters are (presumably) human. That means they want things. For instance, in the morning: I want to sleep. For as long as I possibly can. Does that make for an interesting story? Oh, likely not, unless I fall off the bed or something (you sadists). But it makes me human, I think.
Your characters wants propel them forward. Or perhaps your characters wants keep them from moving forward, if those wants are directly in the way of what lies ahead. The greatest stories, I’ve always felt, are when a character’s wants are at cross-purposes to their destinies. Take Bilbo Baggins, for example. He wanted his elevensies and his tea in peace.
Look how well that worked out for him. Hiya, Smaug.
So keep this in mind as you’re chugging along. What do your characters want? Are they going to achieve their wants? What’s stopping them? What happens when their wants change? Will they lose their way, or will they find it? You can obscure those wants from the audience if it serves the purpose of the story, but you have to make it obvious: they need to want something for themselves, and not because the plot dictates it.
That’s when you have Season Three Sarah. And that, my friends, is bad.
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