Thursday, September 18, 2008

Goals vs. Needs

I'm going to jump back into my screenwriting project that I took to Jim Mercurio's Advanced Screenwriting Workshop in July. I've tackled the first 20 pages. But they still require another rewrite before I continue with the rest of the script.
My goal is to craft this script into something salable that actually gets made into something that bears a fundamental resemblance to my original vision for the movie. But my need is to write something that I desperately want to see -- that will merit my going to bat for it until it becomes reality.

Fundamental Motivators

The difference between GOALS and NEEDS was something that Jim went into in detail during his workshop. Though it may seem like splitting hairs, understanding these two fundamental motivators is important in crafting a solid story. Too much emphasis on one leads to a weakness or deficiency in the other -- which either opens up gaping plot holes (never good) or causes a disconnect between your audience and your main characters (even worse).

For the record, a goal is something physical. It's an external force. A goal is something the character wants, something the character will take steps to acquire. It's the Brass Ring your character dreams about.

A need on the other hand, is something emotional. Fulfilling the need will, of necessity, result in the character's psychological, spiritual, and / or emotional growth. With good story craftsmanship, the need is the Thing that Must Be Overcome in order for the character to achieve his or her ultimate Goal.

Ready, Maestro?

Goals and needs drive each other, to a point. A character's needs can be used to illustrate the depths he or she is willing to plumb in efforts to reach a goal. Also, the larger goals can make turning points within the story more clear and more significant.

In any case, the need must inform and drive the goal.

This leads to the character's epiphany, when he thinks he is ready to gain his prize.

Not until the climax, however, does the character prove he is ready and worthy of reaching what he seeks.

The point is to use the character's needs to "Orchestrate the Goal." The character can't reach his goal until he's had the necessary growth.

...If it's true that "Theatre is Life, Film is Art, and Television is Furniture,"

and that "Life Imitates Art,"

then evidently there is some fundamental growth that I need in order to orchestrate and achieve my goal of Successful Screenplay Sale & Subsequent Filming Occurring. Like many screenwriters out there, I've already had the epiphany. Now I'm just pushing forward to prove it.

Here's wishing every writer out there everything you Need in order to achieve your Goals!