Cheryl and James do an overview of character traits, introducing the distinction between Essence Traits (what a character “is”) and Action Traits (the traits that more directly lead to plot-related behavior). Examples include Indiana Jones, James Bond, The Big Chill, the work of Joan Bauer, Mad Men, The Hunger Games, Back to the Future, and more.
James mentions the first draft of a simple graphic he made called “The Story Ecosystem” (see above) which is a reminder about the interdependence between essence traits, action traits, plot events (what happens to a character) and plot actions (what a character does). It also speaks to the idea that you don’t have to write in any linear order – you can start with any aspect of character or plot. Just remember every input in one category should usually cause an output in another category. Feel free to let him know what you think in the comments.
Link: The Indiana Jones story conference featuring George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Lawrence Kasdan.
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More about this show, for new listeners:
In The Narrative Breakdown, Cheryl Klein, James Monohan, and other guest co-hosts discuss storytelling tips and techniques of interest to any writer, student, or fan of quality creative writing, screenwriting, playwriting, fan fiction, English literature, etc. Each episode, Cheryl and James draw upon their respective experiences in publishing and filmmaking to analyze popular novels, movies, plays, television shows, short stories, and song lyrics. Featuring various co-hosts and writers, as well as material from Cheryl Klein’s book ‘Second Sight’ and James’ iPhone / iPad app ‘The Storyometer.’