I was watching a movie last night. I noticed that the movie was ok, not great. The story was a bit stale, predictable, and jumpy. It has actors that I liked in it though, so it was worth watching. I realized the problem at the end of the movie. Character development. In the case of the movie it was a lack of flushing out a proper background for these characters when it was actually needed. One might argue that leaving a characters background mysterious can be a good thing. Indeed it can. The problem here is it wasn’t done to keep the character a mystery it was simply skipped in favore of some of the less character building cliche moments and the predictable twists. Sometimes the difference between knowing something about a characters background and not, is the difference between a complex character and a two dimentinal one. One thing that is of great benifit to a writer is backstory. Like the Star Wars prequals in thier original form, character and plot backstory can provide a clear motivation and direction to take things and will inform a deeper character, with out having to purposly insert clumsy character moments.
Keeping this is mind I am going to write a scene followed by a character backstory that will inform the character that was in the scene. Now the backstory should always be done first. The problem here is that you never want the audience to know all the secrets from a character before the scene it takes away the drama. That’s why the scene will come first and the character background second. It will be a separate post due to the length of the scene it’s self.
Int – Day 7: am
san Diego Police Precinct 12 main office building
Hank – Male early 30s in Police Uniform and Lt rank displayed. Badge hanging on his belt.
Hank enters the main offices from the centeral hallway. gets a few random greetings from his squad and approches his secretaries desk.
Sect: Your kidder, heres todays list (she hands him a stack of papers note sized), and yesterdays you never got (hands him a slightly smaller stack)
Hank: terrific, and here I thought you didn’t like me
Sect: Just keeping you on your toes sir
Hank: I’ll remember that on your next review (winks)
Hank walks into his office and sits down behind his desk. He tosses both stacks onto the center of his desk and picks up the phone.
Sect: Coffee. black, and a pack of sugary sweets from the vending machine. I mean breakfast.
Hank: You read my mind
Hank hangs up the phone and pulls out a drawer. He could easly ask her on the way in but the call makes it more his first official act of the day and it seems to get him motivated for the rest of the day better. A moment later the Secretary enters his officer with the coffee and packaged candy.
Hank: That was quick
sect: I was prepared today. You have a Mrs Techrhind waiting outside, she said you left her a card to contact you
Hank: I did huh, well send her in
Sect: right away sir
The secretary exits the building hank can see her outside his office speaking to a woman in her early 50s at least, the conversation is short and the woman enters his office.
Hank: How can I help you miss Tac-in-grind?
Tech: It’s tek-rinde actually
Hank: Appologies tek-rinde how can I help you?
Tech: Actually this morning I think I can help you
Hank: Thats always good news
Tech: It’s about Miss Hardwed
Hank: Excuse me, who did you say?
Tech: Hardwed, you two were married for a short time were you not?
Hank: Yeah for a minute or two
tech: Well she passed away last night. I’m her lawyer and I am here to deliver you your inheritence
Hank: it’s not a finger by chance is it?
Tech: A what?
Hank: Never mind. Look I’m sure it’s great, but just donate it to charity or something
Tech: Whatever you wish to do with it is your buisness, I am just here to have you sign for it, for a small fee I will do whatever you wish with it, within reason of course. I have a feeling you don’t want to give this to charity, or more correctly it would be pointless
Hank: Ok look I’m a bit busy this morning so if you don’t mind let me sign and put whatever it is ont he desk I’ll deal with it later
Tech: Of course
hank takes a first sip of his coffee as Mrs Techrhind pulls the paper work from her softleather briefcase. and motions to a few lines in the document
tech: If you can just sign here, initial here, and sign one more time here. Thank you
Tech stands up and pulls a small cigar box out of her bag and sets it on the desk.
Hank: You know it’s illegal to fring a bomb into a police station.
Tech: It’s been swept for anything nefarious I assure you. We haven’t opened it, but whatever is in there it’s just paper.
Hank: Hanve a nice day Miss Trek-in-rige
Tech: It’s a…same to you sir
Mrs Techrhind leaves his office and Hank stares at the package. whatever it is he wants to just burn it, but at the same time maybe it’s an explination. Not because he needs one, but because he is curiouse he opens his desk and gets out a box cutter. Hank cuts open the duct tape primitively covering the box and shakes his head in recognition of the poor wrap job.
Hank takes the box cutter and slids it under the lid lifting it open, and looks inside. there in lays only a folded peice of paper. One that looks like it has been in somebodys pocket for a while and that garment didn’t get washed for a few weeks. Hank takes the paper out and looks at the back, blank. Then turns it over to read what it says:
Mr. Killroy 22 forever ave
Jim l. 14923 staten St
Rachel 6783 Apt b w. Seventh
*Tim Dougles home (never go back)
In case of emergency
Hank eyes the names, addresses for a moment then picks up a pile of messages from the secretary and puts the paper under it. He grabs the first message off the top of the pile.
Dom Abuse suspected 440 third wed 4:15 pm eye witness reports noises and suspiciouse behavior
Hank puts down the paper and lifts the pile up and stares at the inheritence note again. He grabs the paper out from under the pile. He grabs his coat from the rack behind him, left there from the day before and walks out of his office, coat in his arm. He stops at his secretarys desk and opens his mouth to speak.
Sect: Hold your calls and apointments till further notice?
Hank closes his mouth ajusts his coat in his arm and heads out of the offices into the main hall