Monday, May 16, 2011

Like Everybody Else, He's Got a Dream

I watched Tangled with some of my Janeite friends a few weeks ago, and midway through the movie, I realized the hero, Flynn Rider, has something in common with Darcy. Like all well-written characters, there is one thing they want more than anything else.

Almost every writing how-to book will tell you that you must know what your character wants. Motivation goes a long way toward understanding who they are. It's not just what does he do, but why does he do it? Chances are, your plot will follow one of two courses--either your character's dream will change because of what happens to him, or your character will change as he pursues his dream.

Flynn Rider from Tangled is an example of the first option. Here's a clip from the movie; pay attention to his dream.

Of course, it doesn't take long for him to wonder if hanging out all by himself on a beach might not be all it's cracked up to be. As he sees the world through Rapunzel's eyes, he realizes the thug was right--his dream does stink.

For the first time in his life, he's found someone he can trust with who he really is. That changes him, and the change inside him changes what he wants most. It's the classic rogue to gentleman character arc.

When he and Rapunzel are watching the lanterns later, she turns to him and asks a very perceptive question: What happens when you achieve your dream? His answer summarizes the movie. "You get to go find a new dream."

Of course, the challenge when writing this kind of story is to make the transition believable. What could happen in the story to change someone's deep-down dream? Have any of you written this kind of story? How have you handled this?

For other Disney insights into writing and Jane Austen, check out these blog posts:

Prince Phillip by Jessica
Prince Naveen by Kaydee
The Beast by Rebecca

Tune in on Thursday for my post on Darcy, a perfect example of a man changed by his dream.