Ye Olde Shoppe 'o Story Stuffe

Hi all - since I got some great advice on the technical side of things I thought I’d return the favour by offering my expertise as a storyteller (been a pro screenwriter for a while now - have picked up a few tricks along the way).

So any writing or story structure questions you might have, fire away! :smiley:

Here’s a somewhat cynical (but not really) question. With respect to action movies, it strikes me that there are only three kinds of characters: good, evil, and good but weak. And I suspect the screenwriter needs to tip us pretty early in the script to which category a given character is in.

This insight came from reading an Ayn Rand novel, many years ago. She was a pretty bad novelist, all things considered … but she had some success as a screenwriter along the way.

I don’t know what this has to do with game design, if anything. It’s just an off-the-wall question.


There’s always a fine line between cynical and astute. That’s a good summation of the action movie characters, and that’s what an audience expects. The classic action movie genre is more of a theme park attraction than a piece of artistic cinema.

It’s when an action movie blends with thriller, or comedy, that interesting things start to happen. It’s when character arcs come into play.

Die Hard.

McLean starts out as a weak everyman on the brink of divorce. Through the course of the movie he comes to terms with the extreme situation he’s in and throws himself into hero mode.

In parallel his sidekick (the black cop outside) grows from a tubby, gormless stereotype into a man confident enough to challenge his lieutenant and take down a major bad guy.

Good, Bad and Weak characters are dull if they don’t change. Look at the terminator’s arc in T2. That’s good storytelling.

Reminds me of a Saki story - this one:

“There were three dominant types of manhood to be taken into consideration in working out his classification; there was Hugo, who was strong, good, and beautiful, a rare type and not very often met with; there was Sir Jasper, who was utterly vile and absolutely unscrupulous, and there was Nevil, who was not really bad at heart, but had a weak mouth and usually required the life-work of two good women to keep him from ultimate disaster.”

Interesting, and all of which is based on nature over nurture principles. A man is born with a certain character, whether it be fine or foul, and nothing can change that intrinsic nature.

Modernism allows characters to change - they are defined by what they do, not what they are.