In Part One, you learned what to look for when you dive into the source material. You got answers to very specific questions about your character. And the answers came directly from the IP.
You now have the clues that will lead you to the treasure – knowing what makes your character tick. The Why your character exists.
Now answer these next questions for yourself:
Question 1. In my character’s life, what is the most important thing they must accomplish to feel whole?
For our purposes, the answer to the first question gives you the driving reason your character does anything. It is the goal they must achieve in their life to be whole. It is their focus. They know if they are off target. They know when they are succeeding. Imagine now how you feel living up to your greatest wish. You will use those feelings in your work.
Different acting schools have different names for this answer. I like ‘Super-objective’ – it’s kind of close. ‘Life’s goal’ works just as well.
Question 2. Right now, right here, what is it that my character hopes to achieve? (Will succeeding, here and now, help them get to the answer in the first question?)
The answer to the second question is also an important goal, narrowed down to this moment. This answer will give you the driving reason your character is here, now, at this place. This is what your character needs to get done right now. Normally, this goal will help the character get closer to their larger life’s goal. Or, maybe it won’t. That’s ok. Imagine how you feel and respond when you are winning or losing. See how you will know if your character is feeling good about making progress or feeling bad about being held up?
Again, different acting schools have different names for this answer. I lean towards ‘Scene-objective’. ‘Reason to be here’ or ‘thing I have to do’ are fine, too.
Question 3. What must the character overcome to get exactly what they want – right now? (What is in their way and how do they overcome it?)
And the third answer tells you what is blocking your character from achieving their goal. This is the thing your character must overcome to get what they want in the here and now. Imagine in your life, when you run up against something, how you change, trying to get what you need.
There are different names for this answer, too. I like “Obstacle’ and ‘Actions’, but ‘Stuff in my way’, ‘Roadblock’, ‘Tactics’, ‘Maneuvers’ are ok, too.
Two critical things these answers provide the character and the performer:
1) Solid, true-to-the-IP goals for the character to accomplish. The performer can be confident in how to stay on track with every move they make as the character. You’ve created a roadmap for yourself.
2) Your awareness moves outside of your performer mind. You can’t focus on yourself and still get what you want. You become sensitive to the connections you make and the way interactions progress. Knowing The Why opens you a variety of actions to influence any situation. You adapt in real time to anything the visitor or environment throws at you. The character grows into a being of depth and personality.
Altogether, this is where the character comes to vibrant life. To get to their important goals, to make the right moves, the character tunes into everything going on around them, sensitive to each moment as it plays out. For the character each visitor brings something different, so every interaction becomes unique, tailored to that individual. The character is alive, compelling, relatable, thinking and interacting and adapting.
The Why is very powerful stuff.
The Why gives a character heart.