Research is important when creating a specific world that you aren’t intimately familiar
with. In this case, crime scene investigation and the world of law enforcement would likely
necessitate some degree of research.
Research, in my opinion, is what makes the life of a writer so interesting. You’re constantly
A former professor of mine was hired to write movies that take place in worlds that he wasn't immediately familiar with. Therefore, it was his responsibility to do the work, research the unfamiliar settings,
organizations, technology, culture and lifestyles of the characters he was hired to create.
You’d be surprised what arises through research. For example:
The following is a direct excerpt from my class with him:
The film production company, Castle Rock Entertainment (Warner Bros.) hired me to write
a movie that dealt with the Vatican among other things. immediately immersed myself in research and my findings were amazing. I had no idea how high tech the Vatican security system was and how modern the secretive archives were, right down to their state-of-the-art, precision climate control.
As a result of this extensive research, I was able to rethink certain plot lines and develop a
more interesting and believable story.
Next, we’re going to look at Distinct Reactions.
This is a fairly simple concept that’s quite useful in developing conflict. Distinct reactions
are nothing more than individual characters responding to the same events with differing
or opposing reactions.
The characters’ beliefs are reflected in their reactions to events, circumstances, etc. As an
audience we learn about characters by the way they respond to certain things in the story.
Having two different characters responding to the same event in different ways adds
texture and depth to the characters as well as heightening conflict.
It’s also a great way to provide insight into the character’s emotional core. Different
characters will respond differently to the same event. For example, in the movie The Professional, you may remember the Gary Oldman character stealing the basketball from the children playing in the street. It’s an unusual choice but one that tells us a lot about the sort of character
we’re dealing with.
If however the Gary Odlman character was the one that saved Natalie Postman's Character, taking the basketball would have been an action totally out of character.
Discuss a scene in a film you're familiar with that had two or three characters in a scene that had different reactions to the same situation.
Write down distinct reactions for each of the characters in two of the following scenarios:
PURPOSE: To understand how characters can be defined by their reactions.
1. A young couple adopts an infant. (husband/wife)
2. A man introduces his fiancée to his parents (mother/father)
3. An aging baseball player is sent down to the minor leagues. (player/teammates)
4. A twelve year old girl tests as a college level genius. Her teacher recommends she
apply to M.I.T. (child/child’s mother).
5. A single mother finds a winning lottery ticket lying in the street. (single mom/ the
shopkeeper who sees her find it).
6. A brother and sister are lost in the rain forest. (brother/sister).
7. A boy accidentally kills his best friend in a hunting accident. (boy/same boy’s