Where to start, the plot or the character: The chicken vs egg story of filmmaking!
When beginning with your script, whether to start from the plot or character is like a chicken and egg question that has no proper answer. But yes, these are often the two ways that one starts writing, but which one to begin with depends on your own story idea and thought process.
When you set out to write, do you come up with a gripping plot first or do you see a lineup of captivating characters? Whatever way you may choose, it’s also important to understand that both are vital for the development of an overall engaging storyline. Sometimes scriptwriters elevate the character more than a plot but what they don’t realize is that however interesting a character may be, without an engrossing environment that supports and hones it, the character becomes lifeless.
And same goes with the plot, an enticing plot with many twists and turns, but a dimensionless character may fall flat too. Hence, for an overall compelling and artistic form of storytelling, both character and plot are equally imperative.
Now let’s understand what a plot comprises of-
A girl meeting a boy and falling in love is a story idea, while how they met, what all they go through in their relationship makes for the plot. When focusing on plot-driven writing, you need to focus on the events that take place in the plot and how interesting and gripping you can make them. For instance, in the film, ‘Hum Aapke Hain Kaun’, the story revolved around a family wedding and the events that surrounded that wedding like the main leads meeting and falling in love because of that wedding, how their relationship grows through each wedding function, how they fall in love, the misery of one of the character’s death, etc. all make for the plot. The storyline may be old fashioned, but the plot and the treatment of the story are what makes it interesting for the audience to watch it. ‘Hum Aapke Hain Kaun’ may be a plot-centric work of screenwriting, but one cannot ignore the powerful portrayal of all the characters. The characters of the movie were so well defined that one even remembers the name of the dog. Now, that’s what a good balance of plot and characters is all about.
Building the Character
On the other hand, let’s take the example of ‘Don’. Don may have been a character developed in the earlier movie done by Amitabh Bachchan, but the characterization of Don is seen and felt in the movie made by Farhan Akhtar and subsequently taken it a notch higher in ‘Don 2’. The mannerisms, the slapstick dialogue delivery, the one-liners, and the overall attitude of the character is what makes Don probably one of the most loved negative characters. He is, of course, into doing bad things yet there is something charismatic about his character that you can’t help but admire. But just Don alone as a character was not enough to make the movie a success, a captivating plot was needed too. Even when the storyline of Don was familiar since it was a remake, however the way Farhan Akhtar wrote its ending gave the plot a completely new dimension. The sequel especially is a great example to showcase how a character is developed over the years and then backed by a fast-paced thrilling plot that further justifies the evolution of the character.
To conclude, we can easily say that whether one starts from the character or the plot, ultimately, it’s the balance of both that results in a good script and film in the end. To learn more about the intricacies of screenwriting, enrol yourself for WWI Virtual Academy’s Certificate Program in Screenwriting.