If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve heard me talk about conflict. You’ve seen me wax poetic about objectives. You’ve listened to my diatribes on internal obstacles.
Okay, the conflict is what engages the audience. It’s what makes them want to watch.
The objective is what allows us to step into the character’s shoes even though we may seem to have nothing in common with them at first blush.
The internal obstacle helps us keep it real. Being able to doubt ourselves is one of the only defining traits that I can think of that make us truly human.
Is that enough? The audience is paying attention. We’re grounded in the scene. We’re believable. We’re good, right?
Er. Not quite.
It may be believable for me to pick my nose, but I’m pretty sure no one would pay $12 to go see it. It’s not enough to be real. We need to be interesting.
Which is where tactics or actions come in. A tactic or action is something that we do to the other character in order to get what we want (our objective). And a tactic can always be expressed in the form of a verb.
Now, this can’t be just any verb. It needs to be an active verb. An active verb that you can do to someone. Preferably one that gives us a strong mental image.
I can punch you with my words. I can tickle you with my lines. I can humiliate you with my dialogue.
I can’t think, sing or swim you. Make sense?
With each new thought (or “beat”), our character will switch tactics (or verbs) to try something new to get what they want.
We may start by pleading, then switch to seducing, then segue into piercing. Each verb will give a different quality to the line of dialogue we’re delivering. The tactics heighten the conflict, make our choices active and specific, and most importantly. . . make us interesting!!
So go ahead. Push. I dare you.