Source of Inspiration For Great Stories & Memorable Characters
Written by: Luc Saber -- April 4, 2022
I want to bring to your attention a document as old as the history of civilization. It's a document from which filmmakers can pluck storylines, life lessons, and teachable moments that will benefit future generations.
I want to bring to light a document filled with incredible historical accounts, stories of battles, deceit, envy, anger, disobedience, revenge, guilt, injustice, justice, kidnappings, false accusations, fear, happiness, rewards, and punishments.
Filmmakers from all entertainment disciplines, songwriters, painters, and composers are storytellers, so let's tell stories that have meaning.
Let's reach back into history and learn from the mistakes and triumphs of our ancestors.
The most remarkable document ever produced that contains numerous stories ripe for screenplay adaptations is the BIBLE.
I get it if you're not spiritual. But the Bible, The Old Testament, The Torah, and the New Testament are abundant sources of stories, characters, and events you can explore and build on.
The story of King David, for example— is a story of courage and determination. It's a story of the underdog winning the fight.
Get to the core of it. Take a look at the principles by which King David lived, study his personality and character, and apply those attributes to a character living in present day.
Develop a character based on King David. Someone dealing with modern-day problems. Perhaps your character is not fighting incredible giants, but your character's giant might be big Pharma, a nasty boss, an economic situation, or a health issue. Perhaps the giant in your character's life might be an unsolved murder or an event that might bring the world to an end.
How would King David handle the situation?
What about the story of Joseph? He was kidnapped and sold into slavery. He was falsely accused and placed in prison, only to rise above his situation and be the second in command in Egypt.
Can you think of a Joseph in today's world? Can you create a story based on a character such as Joseph?
How about the story of Job? Create a modern-day Job? Perhaps an oil tycoon or a software company's CEO faced with challenges and losses. How will your character react to the adversity in her life? It doesn't have to be a male Job— the spirit of Job can live in women and children. Use your imagination and be creative.
There are a lot of stories in the New Testament. Consider the most extraordinary story ever told. The story of Jesus. How can you create something interesting based on that story?
Especially writers that are inclined to write faith-based stories— take a look and study the character of Jesus and the characters that populated His world.
Would you be able to come up with a fresh and unique take on that story? Perhaps place it in today's society? Or tell it from the point of view of a minor character?
As film and television directors, the discipline is to look at the scene from various unique and interesting angles in the theater.
A director should imagine themselves sitting in every seat a live theater has to offer and take a look at the stage through a camera lens. Imagine the audience watching the play from every point of view in the theater.
Similarly, a writer must consider every point of view, from the most significant to the most relevant character in their story.
Here's a fun exercise. Imagine a family going about their business, but the story is told from the point of view of the family dog.
How would the story be different or similar to the children's point of view, a baby's point of view, such as in the film "Look Who's Talking," or a grandparent's perspective?
Would a nosy neighbor have a different take on the family?
The point I'm trying to make is that old stories can be examined, rehashed, and retold from different, more interesting perspectives.
I encourage you to study the Bible, not as a spiritual exercise, if that's not your thing, but as a source of creativity and inspiration to write vibrant, charismatic characters based on historical figures that helped shape the world.