Most Important Question In Screenwriting by Karl Iglesias
Film Courage: I think you’ve mentioned that you enjoy the word ‘Why?’
Karl Iglesias: It’s my favorite word.
Film Courage: Favorite word. Okay. How should a writer incorporate the word Why and that never-ending curiosity from the minute they start writing?
Karl Iglesias: Well…that’s a great question! I mean Why is connected to curiosity. I think all great artists are highly curious individuals. For me I’m just curious about everything so the reason I love writing so much is because you know just like learning about something I mean…I’m not the first one to say this but I write about things that fascinate me because I don’t know about them. In other words I write in order to learn more about a topic and answer that Why question. Why is this done? How or whatever?
“But the Why (in terms of writing) connects to the reason why characters do what they do. That’s what audiences really want to know and that comes to motivation. So what is really important? It’s a cliché actor’s question. “Like what’s my motivation? Why am I doing this? Why am I saying this in a scene?” Well when you’re writing a story and you’re creating a character and you have all these things happening in the story that you’ve come up with okay…he’s going to do this…he’s going to do that…and that is going to happen. You’ve got to know why. Audiences really want to know why because if it doesn’t connect to a universal motivation, it’s going to feel contrived and fake and that happens all the time.”
But the Why (in terms of writing) connects to the reason why characters do what they do. That’s what audiences really want to know and that comes to motivation. So what is really important? It’s a cliché actor’s question. “Like what’s my motivation? Whyam I doing this? Whyam I saying this in a scene?” Well when you’re writing a story and you’re creating a character and you have all these things happening in the story that you’ve come up with okay…he’s going to do this…he’s going to do that…and that is going to happen. You’ve got to know why. Audiences really want to know why because if it doesn’t connect to a universal motivation, it’s going to feel contrived and fake and that happens all the time. He says “Aahh, you know what? That character wouldn’t do that.” And you’ll be true about that. So for me Why connects to motivation. Once I know what a character wants, the next question in Why. And you better have a good answer to why a character wants what they want. Why did they react a certain way (which creates the plot)? It all comes through character. It’s all psychology, you know?
Film Courage: Have you ever seen a writer whose curiosity could be ramped-up a couple notches [increased]? You know there are certain people who don’t want to admit to being wrong or not knowing something and they need a little more of that [curiosity].
Karl Iglesias: Of course. I mean it’s just like any type of character or human that you meet. I mean there are people who are very curious and there are people who are totally non-curious, you know? And you can tell just by people who ask questions. Usually people who ask questions…I mean when I meet somebody new, I constantly ask questions. I want to know everything, you know? I want to know everything about a person, so I’m constantly asking questions. But if somebody asks you questions to, that shows you their curiosity.
Curiosity is not a trait that is in every human being, although I feel it should be. They’re curious about certain things and they are less curious about others. Depends on the human being really.
Film Courage: Well how does that [curiosity] show up in the writing? Not that they’re not curious but that…
Karl Iglesias: I think it depends. I think it goes to how original the writing is. How much of a world is explored because somebody who is not really curious about something, it will be flat because you only get just a certain level material, right? Whether it’s one-dimensional characters, right? Where it’s like one surface of a character because you didn’t go deeper as the research or knowing about that character or their psychology.
I feel when you come across stories that are really rich you can tell the writer was very curious because they dug deep enough and that is what they explored.
Film Courage: So SILENCE OF THE LAMBS?
Karl Iglesias: Perfect example. I mean look at all the richness of detailed character psychology. Even that world. THE GODFATHER perfect example. You can tell the artists that are really curious about the world they’re writing in and the characters. Those who write truly three-dimensional characters and great complex relationships. So that is how it affects it. And not everybody is curious, so that is why you have good writers and bad writers.
Question for the Viewers: Does this video make you more curious than you already are?
Watch more videos in this series with Karl here on Youtube
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