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Old 04-14-2010, 09:36 PM   #8
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 2,622
Default Re: Character dilemma... any thoughts?

Originally Posted by dog678 View Post
I love the thoughts guys, especially WritersBlock, but do know this is not a comedy, so some of the suggestions are too unrealistic in what I'm trying to portray here.

This is a story in the vein of Leaving Las Vegas meets Adaptation. It's bizarre and out there, but has a heart. So the question is pretty much the same, if a main character's addiction is sex, and we see the change and feel it internally and see it externally half way through the story, can this character go on to find happiness with another human being that isn't rooted in fill the void that makes him so sexual?

My biggest fear is that in the end, the story turns out to confuse people, almost like the question of how an audience can root for a heartless murderer? It's almost impossible without some human quality that's likeable or relatable, like in Tony Soprano's case.

So if he's addicted to sex and comes to a realization about it, can the audience forgive his odd behavior and believe the main character can truly redeem himself through the eyes of someone else?
In my opinion, your dilemma isn't whether or not the audience will root for him, or not.

If you write him as being truly remorseful and making a genuine effort to change (better himself) audiences will get on board by default. He can even fail like in "Leaving Las Vegas", but the fact he makes the effort is what people like to see and why we universally root for the underdog.

(It also just happens to be one of the cornerstones of good drama and conflict: Nothing should be easy and the world is against your protagonists efforts to achieve his/her goal).

Thinking like a professional screenwriter, what I think you might be asking is, is this enough of an arc that is compelling versus pat, or run-of-the-mill?

I can't answer this because this will depend on your execution.

This is the other extreme on the spectrum where the audience can see the possible outcome (happy ending -- Even if it doesn't end happily ever after) a mile away. Telegraphing your ending, or the perception of a specific ending can be as detrimental to a screenplay as not delivering an expected ending just to be "different".

However, I believe the opportunity exists for you to do something very unusual with this genre (romantic drama) and that is reverse the normal goal of these films: To get the two leads together.

Due to your main character's condition, he needs to find out what true "love" is... But he can't get physical with the love interest at all because this is his addiction.

It's your screenplay, but I would consider ending it with the possibility of him getting better... Learning what real love and intimacy is... But not being fully "cured" and living happily ever after.

Recovery from any addiction is an on-going struggle 24/7, 365 days a year for the rest of the (former) addict's life. And 97% of those treated relapse and have to re-enter rehabilitation a few times before they recover... If they recover at all.

So, you should consider all of these realities for not just an accurate portrayal of addiction and recovery, but how they will fit into your story since you said it is not a comedy.

Since you are going to write it as a serious drama, you need to do the research into this particular addiction and then draw the inherent drama and conflict out of the process of treatment and recovery. This is why this is going to be an execution-heavy script IMO because it is not a mainstream subject once you get into it... Even though we see it splashed all over the news with the likes of Tiger Woods and company.

You need to go beyond the headlines and see what this particular addiction and treatment entail and then, like I said, construct your story around the inherent conflict(s) and drama that come out of these different phases. The fact he fails... Maybe has sex with a hooker in a moment of weakness... Will give him depth, be more realistic and also be the defining moment the love interest has to make her own choice whether or not to stick by his side, or move on herself -- The other side of addiction; those affected by the addict & their destructive behavior. Don't forget to address your love interest's reaction to all of this, too. Especially if she is being treated for SA as well.
Positive outcomes. Only.
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