Month: May 2012

Enrichment of the Cast of Characters

With regards to characters, I’ve been doing several things.  The two biggest are the cast mapping and the casting of the characters. Both have been challenging and quite revealing.

First, the cast map.  There are plenty of resources online and in books to help you develop deep characters.  But the characters must interact with other characters, and the attributes and values that the characters bring out in one another are just as important.  This is something McKee teaches.  In fact, earlier this week, my sister and I watched an older film – A Fish Called Wanda (1988) – so I could take a look at the sample cast map he provides on StoryLogue. As I put the two together, it made perfect sense.  Once I drew out my own cast map – the circles, the attributes, how the characters relate. I found some potential problems.  I found some holes in the map and relationships which might not be that interesting.

Second, casting the characters.  This was amazing fun, but far harder than I expected.  As I browsed through IMDB and entertainment sites, I found myself looking for people that had attribute requirements that I knew about in my mind but that I hadn’t written down, and probably didn’t expose anywhere, in the script.  Where characters might have been missing depth on the page, they may have had it in my head, and I just didn’t translate it well.  As I hunted down each actor, I noted the specific things that would rule OUT certain choices as well as rule IN. Once I found a match, I printed out a photo and taped it to a 5×7 index card and wrote all of the attributes that made them the perfect fit.  Then, for each, I went through their parts of my story and captured key details.  In some cases I discovered I had inconsistencies to address.

So far, I recommend these two activities. I think they are contributing to the richness of the story.

Help with Scene Headings

I’m having to do some basic clean-up of my script, even though I have imported it into Final Draft.  Some things didn’t translate well in this proper format, and others, like scene headings, I just have not been familiar enough with to know if I am entering them correctly.   A quick search for help lead me to this page, which as been really helpful and answered my immediate questions.  Take a look.

Rewriting Update

Once I sit down and get situated back into my story, I can easily stay lost in its  world for a couple of hours.  Getting started can often be the toughest part.  I’ve allowed the rewrite to take residence on part of the dining table. Note the lack of a computer here. I’m living in my story in hardcopy and pencils.


I had already done three full scrubs on the scenes/sequences and dialogue, based on coverage I received in the Blue Cat Screenwriting Competition.  I also revisited the outline I had assembled in completing the first draft, to look for holes after deciding to somewhat majorly change the ending.

Now, I’m doing a couple of things at once.  I am able to find tweaks to make to the dialogue with every read, so I’m doing that, again.  I am also indexing the scenes manually – I realize I could do this from Final Draft, but I am comfortable with using purple index cards for sequencing, capturing thoughts, checking attributes, etc. I want to actually draw small story board pictures on the back and try to visualize the full story, end-to-end, on my table or wall. The comfort with physical cards comes from my project management background where we use them for feature lists and breakdown, prioritizing, etc.  I’m also writing down little “ah-ha”s on the green sticky notes; these are thoughts that tie back to the seminar content where I didn’t have an answer for my story, or, where the story might be missing something.

Funny note on the purple index cards: despite having stacks of white index cards at home – given my obsession with them – I went out and bought colored cards.  I refused to use white after McKee scolded everyone writing on white paper!

I mentioned last post that I have driving factors.  I have three dates close together, by which to finish it by, but I’m trying not to rush too much in this process.  I like that I have about 3 weeks to get it to a full version 2.0.  One, I owe an update from version 1, to a producer that is possibly interested; two, I want it ready for the Great American Pitchfest; and 3, the Final Draft contest deadlines are approaching and I’m considering submitting if nothing comes through 1 or 2!