Once we set an idea for the story then we get into the really fun stuff – we start to create the world of our story. And when I mean create the world sometimes we literally do that – especially if it is a fantasy or sci-fi project. We create the geography, the wild life, the cultures of the various civilizations which includes the religions, the structure of the societies and the histories.
A couple of us will sit around the table and start with simple things like what do the people look like? If Mark is involved he’ll give us a quick reminder to not limit ourselves and this is very important. Sometimes we prematurely set boundaries for our story before we are truly done fleshing it out. Joe has made a mention of this in a previous blog entry – Never set the limits to your world until you’re ready. We do our best to be cognizant of this at the Workshop.
When it came to Candy Coated we gave ourselves as much leeway as we could within the parameters of the world – For Instance giving Siege a set of skills that would allow him to break the law if needed gave me a lot of options in how to play out the story arcs for the character. This also gave Mark more to work with while establishing the framework for the story. That approach was pretty much adopted for the rest of the characters and it allowed us to come up with some outlandishly hilarious and exciting twists in the overall plot. Jon took full advantage of this by making his character a male gigolo whose sexual escapades often had a jilted lover pining for his blood which put the rest of the Candy Coated characters in danger – he’s loved some scary bitches.
At the Workshop no detail is too small because you want to treat these characters as if they’re real. For Siege I created an iPod Playlist, found a way to weave his favorite dessert into a side story regarding his history. You never know when those little facts will become important in a story and for me it helps make them more relatable. These details will help prevent that character from becoming static – a fact that is echoed by many of the professionals such as Robert McKee, J. Michael Stracyznski, etc.
We also found that the more we knew about the characters the easier it was to create stories and write the scripts. Mark introduced me to the concept of creating from the ‘Top-Down’ – this involved spontaneously picking a detail (like favorite food, weapon, and movie) and then seeing how that shaped the personality of the character. The scary part was picking the first detail but once that happened, the process became much easier and more fun.
But even when we create these details we always make sure to never lock anything down because even in real life very few of our tastes are ever permanent - as time goes by people end up liking music from a genre they never considered – lose tastes in particular foods they once loved – realize their views on certain topics are not as ironclad as they once thought. Alright next time we’ll either go into sample scripts or see if we can bring you a video entry of ‘Inside the Laboratory’. Later Everyone!