Developing new work often means looking back at what you have done in the past to separate what you would like to revisit and explore further from what you think is a closed chapter, a satisfied curiosity. I appear to have a mild obsession for writing lead characters who compulsively film themselves, record memos and dispense information to others (ideally MANY others at once) after they have made a significant discovery. This is coming from a person who never had a diary, never leaves voicemail messages or would willingly appear in a photo.

To understand a character is to understand their real life equivalent and the world you, as a writer, have lifted and adapted them from. Their hopes and dreams, the obstacles laid in front of them will surface from that as well. Consequently, even though I am fascinated with these outgoing types and often speculate on their logic and motivation, I find it impossible to relate to them. Perhaps that’s why I keep going back to dissecting them on paper. 

The third mentoring session (with Josh Appignanesi) mainly revolved around character and how to subvert personality traits and attributes for dramatic effect. If I were to pick a favourite example out of our conversation about what defines my lead character, it would be adding ‘empty’ in front of ‘ambition’. Gus Van Sant’s “To Die For” showcases as a darkly comical instance of a lead stopping at nothing to achieve what she regards as success – being a famous television presenter, irrespective of the nature or quality of the show. Killing her own husband to fast track her move to LA seems a sensible thing to do.

What’s the point of doing anything worthwhile if no one’s watching? If people are watching, it makes you a better person  Suzanne Stone - To Die For

I found this to tie in perfectly with Coral, the central character of my feature. An Internet addict with a compulsion for filming and uploading anything from personal video diaries to people falling asleep on the tube, she will stop at nothing to increase her viewership and fan base. All moral and privacy filters are off; content quality and relevance are not a concern. In terms of writing, her (now) empty ambition grants me access to a whole wealth of instances of her exercising this compulsion in society: comic relief, tension and indirect characterization, all for the price of one. In the long run, it means that when the time is right for her to take a fall, its cause will be right there, an intrinsic part of who she is, an inner factor, as opposed to some exterior conflict that I would have to artificially pull her into. What builds her up will eventually tear her down.