Story Development Masterclass with Sari Turgeman

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Is there a right or wrong way to pen your story? Why did you choose that particular character as a protagonist? What’s unique about them? And what exactly does the ‘unity of contradictions’ entail? Sari Turgeman’s comprehensive breakdown of why we write the stories we write answered all these questions in the Durban FilmMart Masterclass session Story Development: My Characters and I.

Her engaging and interactive talk dug into the hearSAMSUNG CSCt of a story, and why it’s so important to constantly create human connections with people – be they in your story, or in the real world. She broke the various considerations down into bite-size pieces based on a method of scriptwriting called The Journey Plan that she’s been developing for a number of years through her script consulting company Scriptlight.

Some of the points she touched on included:

  • The heart of a story – also known as the theme, or what message or connection you want to share with the audience
  • The protagonist of your story is the human connection, whether your character is a human or not.
  • The world of events is essentially the place where all the magic happens in the story, and where your protagonist is confronted or helped in various ways.
  • The public wants to have a relationship with the protagonist, hence the need to incorporate human behaviour. Also, we as human beings wouldn’t be able to write from the perspective of a mouse, for instance, because we have no idea how they perceive the world around them.
  • Your protagonist leads the story. “He is the chosen one,” Sari joked as she explored this point in depth. The protagonist has a mission, and he has a journey in the world of events you create.
  • You as a writer have a relationship with the protagonist – whether you realise it or not. This can lead to over-identifying with your character, creating weaknesses in your script, or it can lead to a lack of identification because you may not care about him or her as much.

One of the most important things to remember in scriptwriting is the unity of contradictions, also known as duality, or the idea that opposites attract. When matching characters, one needs to include an antagonist that wants the opposite of the protagonist in order to further grow the story. Turgeman’s final words to the crowd were on the importance of sharing and collaboration, not only within the story you’re telling, but also with the people who join you in bringing your script to life.

“When people read your script in the way you want, they connect to you; they are choosing you,” she told attendees. “And it’s a very good relationship in this way. They’re not choosing something they don’t know, they’re really choosing your project with your uniqueness, with your own voice. So it’s really nice relationship to have on this journey of making a film.”

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