This is something you can do at any point in the writing process. Figure out how everybody feels about everybody else. I was told this technique by Northrop Davis, and now I share it with you.

I started with my hero in the middle, and then worked my way out from there. Allies. Opponents. Major players. Minor characters.

Then write down the dominant idea, the main thing that each character thinks about the other character. And, remember, it goes both ways.

Creating this chart makes you realize, “Hey, these two have no scenes together in the story at all! Better figure out a way for them to have a bit of a relationship.” It is fascinating how drawing the chart triggers ideas. I invented new, and crucial, relationships because I drew the chart. I invented new characters. New situations.

It’s another way to jog the old brain into a different gear, and I highly recommend it.

SIGNS character rels chart Dec 2 12



Filed under character, Details, Rewriting, Scenes, Screenwriting

4 responses to “

  1. Hi William,
    Just want to say your book is awesome! I hate being told what to do, but I’m fine with being told what not to do. We have our scripts in with eight L.A. lit reps and crossing our fingers. I’ve got a spoof news website w/ a writer’s blog, and I’d like to refer people to your page. Let me know if you have any objections to it and I won’t. (right side of page, half way down “Screenwriting 101”)

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Glad you like the book. Warm my black heart.
      Please, do suggest my little blog to your readers. The more the merrier.
      And, best of luck with your scripts!

  2. Hi William, I’d love to know your thoughts on planing vs writing. At the moment I plan almost every scene in note form using word but often find that when I actually start writing this goes almost totally out the window. How much planning would you suggest?

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      I’d plan. Then I’d toss it out the window — if a better plan presents itself during the writing. I like an outline, as it’s a safety net. I have written entire scripts where I just made it up as I went along (and spent a LOT of time rewriting) and I’ve written scripts that had very detailed outlines. Sometimes I stick to the outline. Sometimes I deviate. What matters is that you feel free to make changes if they are needed.
      If find that the more I beat the outline into shape (and I HATE writing outlines) the better the eventual screenplay is.
      I’d rather write script pages than outline pages, which are no fun, but the longer I delay writing the actual script, the better.
      You and I are different writers. You have to find, through trial and error, the method that works for you.
      And, that method may differ from script to script.

      There is no right answer. But, do what you enjoy.

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