Writing a Screenplay – All’s Well That Ends Well (For The Most Part)

Now we’ve (almost) come full circle in terms of writing a screenplay – we started at cobbled together character traits and moved into living, breathing, people who were plump (well, they will be once an actor agrees to play them and gets you a lot of money in the process, anyway). And if you’ve been doing the exercises while writing a screenplay and following along up to this point, I want to take a serious time out for a moment to commend you, and here’s why.
The vast majority of movies that get made today (especially the ones with large budgets – I’m staring you straight in the face on this one, Michael Bay, and Jerry Bruckheimer) don’t place an emphasis on strong character development when writing a screenplay – and there’s a very specific reason for that. Well, there are two of them actually:

1. It’s really hard work to create great characters when writing a screenplay, and that’s why I wanted to slow down for a moment and take a page out of Fatboy Slim’s book and praise you. And because it’s really hard work, people struggle to do it well, and that includes experienced, professional screenwriters who get paid large amounts of money to write a good chunk of the nonsense that you see in theaters. You can’t really blame them entirely because of the second reason, which is that.

2. Just because a movie has great characters in it does not mean an audience will embrace them. Hollywood has this funny habit, historically, of focusing the vast majority of their attention (and ample resources) on things they think that audience will end up really, really embracing. And if you’re a working screenwriter who is writing a screenplay and this is how you pay your bills, then scripts with really great character development don’t always catch on, and great character development is a lot of hard work…well, you get the picture.

Here’s the honest truth, when it comes down to it- Disney/Marvel has more money (and influence over the country, seriously) then the U.S. treasury and a Saudi oil family put together, and you’re never going to be able to stop movies with bad characters from being made – or people going to see them, for that matter. There’s an element of personal responsibility here, and so you have to ask yourself, “Well, what can I do to help fix the problem?” And that question, my dear readers, has a surprisingly simple answer.