The Why is a critical concept in developing a fantastic interactive character. The Why comes in two flavors. You have to have them both.
Uncover The Why and you find; 1) The driving reason your character is in this story, 2) The compelling reason your character does what they do at any given moment.
As a performer, having The Why provides a guide to all your connections and interactions. The Why keeps you true to the IP. The Why immerses you in the character’s world. It gives you vital reasons to interact and include visitors in your world. It leads you to confident, active, appropriate improv.
The Why is also your door into the character. It gives you something you can commit to emotionally. The Why gives your character an authentic heart.
How to find The Why.
First stop is your source material. You want to find and absorb all the specific details you can about your character. Take the time to dig into all the resources available. A great beginning here yields fantastic results down the road.
Usually, a character will be from an existing intellectual property (IP). The IP can be a movie, animation, game, story, cartoon, graphic novel or TV show – anything, really. With that IP, you get an existing history of known situations and behaviors for that character. It shows you clearly your character’s history and how they have responded in a bunch of situations. These are your clues to what makes this character tick. So, first thing, go directly to the source.
Keep these questions in mind and make notes when you find the answers to:
What do other characters say about my character?
What does my character say about them self?
What does my character do in these stories?
What in these stories is the most important thing for my character?
How does my character describe their world?
How does my character respond to different kinds people and situations?
What physically happens to my character?
Does my character change or learn something new?
What is my character’s world like?
What is said about my character’s past?
What are the circumstances that bring my character here?
Don’t guess. Don’t make anything up. Just be sensitive to the action in the story and record the details as you see them. These answers give you a specific, critical view into the way your character feels about them self and the world they inhabit.
What you do next will expand your options and give your character a heart.
Next: The Why. Step Two – what to do with your answers