I’m so grateful for being able to commandeer this wonderful blog this one time in support of my blog tour for my new urban fantasy novel “Jo-Bri and the Two Worlds,” available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Smashwords, iBookstore, etc. I’ll try to live up to the high standards of both the blog writer and the audience.
Being primarily a screenwriter, I’m often asked what the difference is between writing novels and screenplays. There are all the obvious differences, of course, such as: length; the emphasis on dialogue, action and visuals in screenplays as opposed to narrative and voice in novels; and the ability to be much looser in story structure with novels, even stream of consciousness, which rarely works on the big screen.
One thing that is similar between the two forms, though, is the importance of character. Whether that character is described in narrative as in a novel, or shown in action as on the big screen (or little screen for that matter), the point is to create a character through whose eyes we watch the story unfold, and through whose mind we experience that story first-hand.
Most of all, though, the main character has to be someone we are interested in. We don’t have to like him or her, though it helps if we do, but we certainly have to be not just willing but eager to share a theater or a comfy reading chair with for hours at a time.
The way to create such a character is to make sure he or she is fully drawn. Caricatures can work in both novel and script, in comedies for instance, but even then it is a much more powerful story when the main character has depth. Even in comedies, in the best comedies, no matter how broad, creating a history for your main character, and a flaw, enhances the reader or audience’s ability to identify with that character. Look, for example at a broad farce like “Airplane.” You couldn’t get any more slapstick and silly, and yet the main character is a man who fought in the airforce and became so traumatized that he can barely sit in a plane anymore, and it is to this man that the responsibility falls for flying a commercial jet liner, with all the crew and passengers depending for their lives on his ability to overcome his flaw and save their lives. That could easily be the description of a drama or melodrama.
This is what I tried to do with “Jo-Bri and the Two Worlds.” I created a main character steeped in conflict and a history of loss, then I amped that up by creating a “merging” ceremony that involved him absorbing the spirits of all the friends and family the villain had killed, and nearly going mad with their voices inside him. Then I throw this poor teenage wizard into an alien world without a minute of preparation, and have him pursued by the greatest and most dangerous and evil wizard in his world, the wizard who killed everyone he has ever known and loved.
Main characters don’t always have to be that dramatically or traumatically drawn… but it doesn’t hurt to give them as much as you can in order for them to be irresistible to a reader or a family sitting in a dark theater, having just spent their week’s disposable income on tickets and junk food.
Rob Tobin is a produced screenwriter, published novelist (“Jo-Bri and the Two Worlds” and “God Wars: Living with Angels”, available on Amazon.com and iBookshelf), author of two screenwriting books (“The Screenwriting Formula” and “How to Write High Structure, High Concept Movies” available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Google, etc.), a former motion picture development executive and book editor, graduate of USC’s prestigious Master of Professional Writing program, husband, father, Canadian, and lives an extraordinarily happy life in Southern California. He is available for writing assignments at this email. Visit his website at Rob Tobin Writing.
Please click HERE for a full list of Rob Tobin’s books and links to buy from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com