The Casting Couch for Character Development

Jessica Alba as Max in Dark Angel

Who Do You Want To Act The Role Of Your Protagonist?

An effective way to increase the connection you have to your characters is to sit on the casting couch. There are thousands of talented actors who could be cast into the role of your protagonist. Who would be their ideal counter and play the role of your antagonist? You could even select your supporting cast and run the credits through your mind.

Jessica Alba is going to play the lead role when they turn my current work-in-progress into a movie. Well, in a perfect world she would. Of course I’m sure she’ll love the script. It’s not finished yet but it’s going to be fantastic and it’ll be exactly what she’d want to do next. I picture it; I visualize and see her eagerness and anticipation. She knows the role is right for her and she’s looking forward to spending months in this characters skin.

Who will star in the book-to-movie adaptation of your novel?

As our characters develop during the writing process they grow in our mind. They start off as simple sketches. Insubstantial figments that act on strange whimsy. As we flesh out these strange creatures we discover personality, history, motivation, and depth. In time they take on a life of their own. We hear their voices in our heads and they begin to push the story rather than being resistant followers to our commands.

Visualizing these stars acting out your book can help you delve into character and story. With an actor in mind scenes become almost movie-like in the mind’s eye. As I write a scene I see Jessica Alba as my protagonist. She becomes my character. She mirrors her spunk and fire. Her dark hair and eyes reflect the sense of disturbed darkness within my character. I see the scene unfold as if I were watching in high-definition and surround sound.

Could Paul Walker be my next book's leading man?I haven’t cast my leading man yet. I’m considering Paul Walker but keeping my options open until someone feels “just right”. I find my hero much more difficult not only to picture in my mind’s eye but to feel and know. He’s still fragmented. I can’t “get” him. Perhaps that is why I haven’t been able to cast him. If I could find the perfect actor to play his part would I find myself more connected and attached. Who is this man and if any actor could play his part who would I choose?

Who would you cast in the movie of your novel? Does having your star in mind influence your writing and your sense of connection to your characters?

Save The Cat [For Screenwriters] by Blake Snyder

I’m not particularly into scriptwriting, but when someone recommended that I read Save The Cat: The Last Book On Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder, I was intrigued enough to comply. This is a book written in a personal and engaging style by a man who has a couple of million dollar script sales under his belt, as well as a few bombs. In other words, he’s experienced in the movie industry and he doesn’t pull any punches.

Why Another Screenwriting Book?

Blake Snyder admits that there are many screenwriting books, but he says they don’t tell it like it is, and don’t help readers to achieve success. He also takes a pot shot at Hollywood, claiming that many movies lack common sense. Snyder hopes to address this in Save the Cat. I haven’t read many books on screenwriting, but I found this an easy read, which anyone could understand.

The book’s intriguing title is explained in the introduction. It’s about having your hero do something that makes the audience sympathetic. The book is subtitled “The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need“. Although I wouldn’t be so bold, suffice it to say that by the end of the book, I felt I know enough about planning a screenplay to turn out something credible. So, what’s inside?

Inside Save The Cat

Eight chapters of straight talk, that’s what. Chapter 1 helps you to take your idea and formultate it into a logline, giving four ways to make it better. It also shows you how to test your pitch before doing it for real. Chapter 2 tells you about genre. Blake Snyder uses his own titles here, such as Monster in the House, Dude with a Problem and so on, helping us to see how different movies are examples of the same thing.

Chapter 3 is about your hero: how and why the hero works with your idea and which archetypes you need to think of in creating a hero. Chapter 4 shows the beats of a movie. According to Snyder there are 15 of them and he gives an example of how these appear in a popular movie. The following chapter shows you how to create a frame for your screenplay using these beats.

Getting To Grips With Writing

Chapter 6 shows us how to get to grips with the writing, using techniques such as Pope in the Pool (distracting the audience from necessary exposition) and the Covenant of the Arc (which is all about character development). Chapter 7 is about checking your work and chapter 8 is about marketing it. There’s also a handy glossary at the end.

My Verdict

Blake Snyder is either loved or loathed by critics, but the proof of the pudding for me was that I was able to see how various bits of script and writing techniques were used in a recent film, 88 Minutes starring Al Pacino. I could see how the writer created sympathy at a crucial moment and where necessary distractions were included. I learned a lot from Snyder’s book and it’s made me seriously consider writing a screenplay.

Now, all I need is an idea…

Sharon Hurley Hall is a born again blogger who has been writing for more than 20 years.
Sharon runs the freelance mentoring blog, Get Paid To Write Online.

Sunny California? It’s a Myth

Have you ever heard that nothing but sun shines in California?

Dear Reader,

Oh! What a lie!!! It’s my third day here and I’m yet to see the sun. My friend tells me that I brought my Australian weather with me but honestly? The sun was shining back at home when I left. How can it be raining in California at the end of May? Hasn’t this state heard of spring?

Now, I’m no weather expert but I’ve noticed how strange seasons have become lately. As I flew in over the airport there was little but cloud cover to see and that was ok. Every state is entitled to an off day. Calling for a personal day for three days straight, however, just doesn’t do your tourist industry credit. We were promised sun.

Thankfully, sunshine isn’t needed to walk the path of stars and see all the freaks and weirdos coming out to entertain the gullible, facile masses. In a state that is run by a movie star, fame is the game and apparently it’s a booming industry here. If you dress up as Snoopy and stand on someone else’s footprints people will take photographs of you. I do hope these people make good money because it sounds like a miserable life to me.

You also don’t need sunshine to enjoy a movie at the Chinese Theater. I have to admit I really loved this place. The screens are huge, the surround sound perfectly pitched and while the seating and popcorn could withstand being refreshed every other decade the escapism of cinema makes you forget how distorted your back is.

The theater itself is beautiful. I’m not sure about where you are, but in Western Australia cinema is industry business. Cinemas aren’t designed to be attractive. They’re designed to be comfortable and large. They’re filled with movie posters and bad lighting. Cinemas in Western Australia are efficient, don’t get me wrong, but they’re not the experience that the Chinese Theater gives you.

So, despite the rain and the cloud, the betrayal of the ‘Sunny California’, I am loving my time here. I’ve even managed to get some writing done thanks to The Sheraton’s wireless internet access.

It’s off to the Highland Games today! Any suggestions for what sightseeing I should do while I’m here?