Everybody seems to be raving about Breaking Bad lately from a scriptwriting point of view. Whilst I can’t argue with the logic I have to admit to having not seen the show at all (my previously point about my lack of TV watching applies here). I downloaded the first episode through a promotion on Xbox Live but then, wonderfully, I didn’t work when I tried to stream it through my Xbox so I skipped. A discussion on Shooting People this week focussed on the main character Walter as a basis of writing good central characters. ‘Make your main character great at something’ he said, arguing that people want to see people being good at stuff. Walter is a brilliant chemist and this is apparently what drives the story. Even characters which are complete deadbeats are, it would seem, still included. Renton from Trainspotting might be a drug addict but he’s brilliant at scoring heroin for example.
I can certainly see the point he’s making and it has made me go back to think on previous characters I’ve written in the past. John in Robotics in a bit of a loser but he is very good at making robots, to the point he can make an exact copy of himself which passes off for him at his workplace. It’s either his skill that allows him to do this or his workmates just ignore him as he goes about his business. I’d like to think it’s a bit of both if I’m honest.
Edward in Seven Lucky Stars was a brilliant host of a game show, it’s just that his boss didn’t seem to think so and wanted to get someone better.
Tony in The Unlocked Project was pretty much only good at sudoku, which is possibly why that didn’t turn out so good.
So writers, what do we think of this ‘expert’ theory?