I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the sheer number of people that we meet in our life. If someone decided to keep count of all the people they met from the moment they were born until the second they departed this earth, the number would be staggering.
And I am not even talking about people who have lived all over the world, or who travel constantly. Nope. I am just talking about your everyday person.
Man. The number would be huge. Think about it.
So many people come and go in our lives, that we often don’t take the time to think about the impact these people have on us.
Sure. We all remember the first person we kissed. Or the teacher that was a total jerk to us (or vice versa). But, I am talking about that random dude who helped you change a flat tire 15 years ago. Or the girl who let you borrow her phone when you were stranded after a concert…phoneless…and penniless.
People that we encounter have a huge impact on us. Sometimes in a negative way. And, other times, in a positive way.
We walk through our lives, and have experience after experience. And during those experiences, we share moments with people. Special moments. But, then these people vanish. Not literally of course. But they sure as hell vanish from your life. And, often, there is no ill will. It’s just your paths diverge at some point.
But what’s important to remember is not that they are out of your life…rather…you should remember how they once impacted your life. And how you grew as person because of them.
The same principle applies when you create a story. You want to make sure that each character – each person – you introduce has an impact on the story.
Either – an impact on the plot…or…an impact on one of your main characters. And, I suppose, that once a character has an impact on either your screenplay’s plot or main characters, the entire story is thoroughly impacted.
I really enjoy a movie that creates characters that bring something meaningful to the fictional universe you are a part of for 2 hours. Characters that are amazingly real…despite the fact that they were created in a person’s head…in their imagination.
When I write characters. Or, I should say. When I write a situation in which the character must make a decision, I dig deep into myself and think about all of the “characters” I’ve met during my 36 years on earth. And I will often make a hybrid character. A little of this person’s persona. And a little bit from a couple of other people. And what I often find when I do that is that you will get contradicting personality traits. Which leads to great conflict. And great drama. And a great story.
Sometimes I will drift off into la-la land, and think about a random person from my past. Maybe its someone I hung out with for months when I was a kid. Or someone I worked with. Or someone I would just drop off my dry cleaning too. And when I think about them, I feel grateful for having known them. For having shared in a moment of time with them. Or for having the honor to be a part of their life’s story!