PLAY SORCERER 21: The Point of Story is to Reveal Character


Here’s a thing about story:

It isn’t about plot. It isn’t getting to the big climax with the villain. It isn’t about drawing maps and building a world.

What a story is about is revealing character.

When you watch a movie you love or read a book you love or watch a play you love, what you are really watching is the revelation of the main character or characters.

Time after time the main characters are under stress and we see what kind of decision they make, how they respond, what’s going on in their heart or mind when they choose what to do or say next. And in those moments we find out who that person is. Revelation of Character.

This stuff, this revelation of character, is why we watch a movie that we think is great. Sure, there might be special effects that are awesome. There might be clever lines. But if the movie stays with you—and I guarantee you this is true—that on some level you were engaged with a character revealing who or she was. This is true whether or not you were aware that this was catching you up or not.

Watch how many times Frodo has to decide to go on or not in the Lord of the Rings films, or who he has to navigate his relationships with all the people who are near him, claiming to be there to help him. Watch how Sam is not just loyal, but rededicates his loyalty to Frodo time and time again.

It isn’t enough to say, “Well, this is who they are… they’re like this… [add description].” No. I the moment-by-moment playing out of the dramatic narrative, we have to assume that every character has a choice. And in that moment they choose to behave a certain way. And that is who they are.

That’s why we have Humanity and Lore in Sorcerer. Since we’re making up the tale on the fly, we need points of imaginative focus that keep us creatively and thematically focused. When we have definitions of Humanity and Lore that provides a wide variety of options for behaviors, we can have both unity to the story but great variety. And when it comes to revelation of character, Humanity and Lore are amazing jumping off points.



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