ON LOCATION: How to Create a Powerful Rewrite (Part 2)

How to Create a Powerful Rewrite Part 2


Using the rewrite process Screenwriters must understand that the first allegiance is to STORY. The rewrite concerns itself with elevating your script’s quality and fulfilling your vision by looking at 6 aspects. (See previous episodes in the Archives on the website).

This episode of ON LOCATION will examine your lead character and the relationship to and with other characters as you engage in the rewrite process.

Create a Character Profile.

  1. CORE Traits.

What are your lead character’s core traits? The most effective way to do this is to create 4 or 5 basic personality traits. The character may be courageous, compassionate, impulsive and shrewd. One of them should be negative.

KEY: Which trait must change? The negative trait. In large part the character’s transformational arc will achieve this.

Separate all of the dialogue by that lead character and pour at least 2 of the traits into each speech the character has. This will give your character a unique voice and will distinguish the character from others so that your characters don’t sound alike.

  1. The DESIRE line.

I cannot emphasize this too strongly. What does your character want? What is the lead’s goal? This desire line should permeate your entire script. It is the plot and the external story. There should be just one desire line. If there are two goals for instance, you have two stories. This must be avoided. The desire line should be developed as your lead faces obstacles and set-backs to achieving the gaol. Rocky wanted to go the distance. That was the DESIRE line. But, what he needed was something different and internal. He NEEDED respect.


It is absolutely imperative that a writer understand this. What does your character want (desire line) and what does your character need? This directly is associated with a ghost from the past that haunts the character in the present. In CHINA TOWN the ghost from the past that haunted Jake was contained in the title of the movie. This ghost is tied into a character flaw or weakness which in turn will inform the character’s need. This is the inner story life of the character and is related to the inner story.  What unites the two is your theme.

KEY: Will your character achieve the GOAL and fulfill the NEED? If so, the ending will be UP. If not, the ending will be DOWN. If your character is successful with one but not the other, the story’s ending will be IRONIC.

Here is a word about the Character WEB.

This is the relationship of each character in your story. Watch IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, 1967. It is evident that each character in that story is related in a direct or indirect way to Virgil Tibbs.

If you wish to discuss this further, please call or email. I offer a ten minute consultation absolutely free of charger with NO obligation. I love talking to aspiring writers and I wish to help in any way I can.

And please visit the rest of the web site.

Hey, thanks for checking out this episode of ON LOCATION.



The significance of the END POINT for your lead character, SCENES and SITUATIONS and how you can attract a major actor to your screenplay.