1. keysersoze

    keysersoze New Member

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    Characters struggling to co-exist on the page

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by keysersoze, Dec 31, 2019.

    I am writing a play with the two main characters hailing from two very different worlds. The man is the head of marketing in a consultancy services and the woman is a nightclub/bar dancer. Ever since the man (let us call him K) committed the crime of insider trading a few months back, he has had troubles with his conscience. The woman (let us call her L) has insidious intent towards him. She knows he is troubled and cannot share his secret with anyone. She doesn't know his secret yet. She only knows that he is suffering pangs of conscience. She believes if she can push him off the ledge, she can have him. Complicating the plot is the unknown blackmailer who says he/she has evidence proving the crime and leading his career and job in jeopardy.

    The problem I am facing is this - when I write dialogue from the man's perspective, the woman character comes out flat. If I write dialogue from the woman's perspective, the man vanishes into empty words. It is hard to bring them together at once in the same scene. I am struggling with bringing them together at once on the page/stage. The first scene constitutes them discussing potential blackmailers and her making advances, him retreating back (femme fatale stuff), her acting vulnerable, drawing him in, until eventually the construct falling apart and K deciding to surrender and confess his crime to the law.

    I have worked some on the back stories of the characters. I can share that if required. What am I missing here? Why am I not able to bring them together at once?
     
  2. GrJs

    GrJs Active Member

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    I think your issue may be that they have no reason to know each other and have nothing in common. There's no way for them to relate to each other. There's nothing that connects them.
     
  3. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Member

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    I agree with GrJs. A good way would be to give him a hobby or a collection, or just a passion for something that she can see in his apartment/house that she can latch onto. She doesn't have to even like it so much herself if she is as manipulative and devious as you make out. Hell, you could even have her run off and google it to try and learn as much as possible to then go back and worm her way into him liking her more. What's more, you could make whatever hobby/passion it is something ironic to his or her situation, or something foreshadowing. It could just be something as simple as a collection of antique Russian nesting dolls. "Oh look, each one inside the other is something different!" showing that people (like the dolls) have different layers, as an example :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2020
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  4. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Nefarious Flamingo Staff Contributor

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    You are really going to have to think as two characters at once here. Use their backstory and character's normal attitudes to guide how their reactions to each other in conversation work out. The dancer is going to be agreeable, but distant unless there is an outside reason that she should do anything other than platitudes. Her job is in seduction, and making people feel comfortable an interested. Play into that. If they meet at that club, and she dances for him, she will be highly interested in him in observational status only, but mentally, she just wants the cash. Same works in reverse for him. Say he's at that club. He's obviously there for some escapism. He wants the girl to make him feel comfortable, and maybe that leads him to be more open. All I'm saying is that you need to think of why they are where they are, and let the environment naturally play into the conversation. Character's intent is at the utmost importance too. Nobody does something without reason. Play with the intent to steer the dialogue.
     
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  5. keysersoze

    keysersoze New Member

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    I was thinking about his interest in criminal psychology that his father discouraged at one point. I was thinking that there can be something common here between them as she has been with hardened criminals and gangsters. But this is not even close to a symbol the way you suggest. Coming to think about it, I would really love to have something symbolic working here. The premise of the play is 'destruction leads to vitality'. I am thinking of a knife. It would also foreshadow murder that the protagonist will commit towards the end. But how can a knife be a common interest? What do they do with the knife? Eat fruit? What fruit? Anything else? At the climax the protagonist would kill someone. So, knife can be a foreshadow of that. Is that too direct, or not?

    Their relationship is a customer-service provider kind of a sexual relationship. It happens under pretenses of gift giving and shopping splurges.

    I love the idea of a symbol here.
     
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  6. keysersoze

    keysersoze New Member

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    T
    The intent is becoming too direct for me. The logical sequence of the first scene goes as this -

    He is whining about his situation (someone is blackmailing him) - leads to - her not taking him seriously (which is a ploy from her as she knows he needs attention) and mocking his concerns delicately - leads to - him bursting out, demeaning her and asking her to leave - leads to - her asking who it might be blackmailing her - he recounts people at office, his rivals - she asks what about family - he demeans her again for asking this question and boasts a little about middle class values - she withdraws for a while, then brings in personal examples of how parents can be the meanest thing that can happen to someone (she was sold to a sex trafficker by her parents, which does happen in this country) - he responds with dignity that upholding family values is the bed rock of life, without that everything is lost - she laughs at this, mocks it with a subtlety which is brutal - this destroys something inside him, he decides to confess his crimes - she tells him not to - He calls her filth and scum. The scene ends.

    The scene that follows this one is where the father-son relationship goes through a mighty storm.

    My problem is that I am not able to flesh this out properly. All this is too logical right now. I think the backstory might be lacking some. But once I start writing the backstories of the two characters, it just becomes a plethora of non-sense details. Later, when needed, the details are hard to find in all the material that I have already written.

    The premise of the play is "destruction leads to vitality". Will that have something to do with character development - characterization and character revelation?
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2020

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