SimplyScripts Discussion Board
Blog Home - Produced Movie Script Library - TV Scripts - Unproduced Scripts - Contact - Site Map
ScriptSearch
Welcome, Guest.
It is November 15th, 2018, 6:28am
Please login or register.
Was PortalRecent PostsHome Help Calendar Search Register Login
If you wish to join this discussion board, please send me a message. Please do read the guidelines that govern behavior on the discussion board. It will make for a much more pleasant experience for everyone. A word about SimplyScripts and Censorship


Scripts Studios are posting for award consideration
October OWC Who Wrote What and Writers Choice
And the Hyper Epic pick is...

The Night Gallery 7WC Scripts

Short Script of the Day | Featured Script of the Month | Featured Short Scripts Available for Production | Submit Your Script

How do I get my film's link and banner here?
All screenplays on the simplyscripts.com and simplyscripts.net domain are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. This screenplaymay not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.
Forum Login
Username: Create a new Account
Password:     Forgot Password

SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    Screenwriting Class  ›  Methods to Reveal Character Backstory Moderators: George Willson
Users Browsing Forum
No Members and 2 Guests

 Pages: 1, 2 » : All
Recommend Print
  Author    Methods to Reveal Character Backstory  (currently 406 views)
Steven
Posted: July 3rd, 2018, 2:59pm Report to Moderator
Green



Location
Southern California
Posts
600
Posts Per Day
0.58
Say you have a story that picks up well into whatever the conflict is, but you also want to reveal how things got to where they are?

These are the most common methods, but I'm interested in different takes, if any:

-Straight up flashbacks between present day scenes (no trigger to flashback).

-A dream reveals backstory, then typically a VO of a present day character wakes them up, obviously signalling to the audience the character was dreaming.

-Have the character start talking about their past to another character, then "show not tell" what happened, accompanied by VO in the beginning and end of the sequence.

Are there any other methods? One could simply start at the beginning, but it's always good to "get in late and leave early" as far as I'm concerned.
Logged Offline
Site Private Message
FrankM
Posted: July 3rd, 2018, 3:24pm Report to Moderator
Green


Location
Between Chair and Keyboard
Posts
566
Posts Per Day
1.67

Quoted from Steven
Say you have a story that picks up well into whatever the conflict is, but you also want to reveal how things got to where they are?

These are the most common methods, but I'm interested in different takes, if any:

-Straight up flashbacks between present day scenes (no trigger to flashback).

-A dream reveals backstory, then typically a VO of a present day character wakes them up, obviously signalling to the audience the character was dreaming.

-Have the character start talking about their past to another character, then "show not tell" what happened, accompanied by VO in the beginning and end of the sequence.

Are there any other methods? One could simply start at the beginning, but it's always good to "get in late and leave early" as far as I'm concerned.


A cute variation on the third one (usually used for comedic effect) is to have the VO be what the character says and the action describe what actually happened.


Family feature: Who Wants to Be a Princess?
Sci-Fi short trilogy: Timmy
Logged Offline
Private Message Reply: 1 - 15
Steven
Posted: July 3rd, 2018, 3:40pm Report to Moderator
Green



Location
Southern California
Posts
600
Posts Per Day
0.58

Quoted from FrankM


A cute variation on the third one (usually used for comedic effect) is to have the VO be what the character says and the action describe what actually happened.


You mean like an "unreliable narrator" situation?

I rewatched The Walking Dead's first couple of seasons, because they're the best seasons, and Shane explains to the group how someone died. His VO is heard while we're shown a completely different story.
Logged Offline
Site Private Message Reply: 2 - 15
FrankM
Posted: July 3rd, 2018, 4:36pm Report to Moderator
Green


Location
Between Chair and Keyboard
Posts
566
Posts Per Day
1.67

Quoted from Steven


You mean like an "unreliable narrator" situation?

I rewatched The Walking Dead's first couple of seasons, because they're the best seasons, and Shane explains to the group how someone died. His VO is heard while we're shown a completely different story.


Yes, the unreliable witness. The most logical place for an unreliable witness is a crime drama, but in that case you donít want to reveal too much to the audience. In those cases, the unreliable witnessís story would generally be shown as described by the character (with some camera effect indicating this is a potentially fictional flashback). I recall CSI and Crossing Jordan doing that with hypothetical scenarios. Criminal Minds would just have the narration in most cases without any visuals, but that leads to huge heap of OTN dialogue (visuals do appear once the mystery is solved).


Family feature: Who Wants to Be a Princess?
Sci-Fi short trilogy: Timmy

Revision History (1 edits)
FrankM  -  July 3rd, 2018, 8:17pm
Logged Offline
Private Message Reply: 3 - 15
eldave1
Posted: July 3rd, 2018, 8:06pm Report to Moderator
Yellow



Location
Southern California
Posts
3806
Posts Per Day
2.43
Awful hard to answer what is the best without the context. Everything you listed could work.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
Logged Offline
Site Private Message Reply: 4 - 15
Steven
Posted: July 5th, 2018, 7:47am Report to Moderator
Green



Location
Southern California
Posts
600
Posts Per Day
0.58

Quoted from eldave1
Awful hard to answer what is the best without the context. Everything you listed could work.


I'm not relating this to a project I'm working on, just trying to gather ideas of different methods to reveal backstory.
Logged Offline
Site Private Message Reply: 5 - 15
eldave1
Posted: July 5th, 2018, 10:01am Report to Moderator
Yellow



Location
Southern California
Posts
3806
Posts Per Day
2.43

Quoted from Steven


I'm not relating this to a project I'm working on, just trying to gather ideas of different methods to reveal backstory.


Yeah, I got that.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
Logged Offline
Site Private Message Reply: 6 - 15
MarkRenshaw
Posted: July 6th, 2018, 7:27am Report to Moderator
Yellow



Location
UK
Posts
1395
Posts Per Day
0.69
Iíve noticed that most TV shows simply tell. They have one character tell another some dark, disturbing, emotional memory from their past and this is supposed to be character growth. Itís pants, I hate that. Itís just the cheapest method of filling time and lazy writing.

For me, thereís no problem using any method but at least try to give it a new twist which is unique to your story, or give them something visual. For example, in a feature Iíve just written, I have a cyborg infected with a virus. Every so often he blacks out and relives a memory from his past before waking up to find the memory deleted and more of his software uninstalled. Iím using that to sneak in backstory.

Another method is when the protagonist works out who the antagonist is. As this is sci-fi, instead of just revealing his deductions (heís a private detective) he goes into a virtual hyper version of the internet and shows them this characterís backstory from a series of historical clips in which they are all in the scenes as spectators.


For more of my scripts, stories, produced movies and the ocassional blog, check out my new website. CLICK
Logged Offline
Site Private Message Reply: 7 - 15
jayrex
Posted: July 8th, 2018, 8:51am Report to Moderator
Yellow


Cut to three weeks earlier

Location
London, UK
Posts
1230
Posts Per Day
0.28
A newspaper heading.  Usually followed by reading the pertaining detail why such and such is who they are or committed said act.


Logged
Site Private Message Reply: 8 - 15
eldave1
Posted: July 8th, 2018, 10:20am Report to Moderator
Yellow



Location
Southern California
Posts
3806
Posts Per Day
2.43

Quoted from jayrex
A newspaper heading.  Usually followed by reading the pertaining detail why such and such is who they are or committed said act.


Point taken. However, given the current era - maybe go with internet or TV instead.  Folks don't read newspapers


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
Logged Offline
Site Private Message Reply: 9 - 15
FrankM
Posted: July 8th, 2018, 10:27am Report to Moderator
Green


Location
Between Chair and Keyboard
Posts
566
Posts Per Day
1.67
There is the old standard As You Know Bob, which can occasionally be used with enough of a twist to make it palatable. One variation mentioned on that page is having a reporter interview/question/badger the character.


Family feature: Who Wants to Be a Princess?
Sci-Fi short trilogy: Timmy
Logged Offline
Private Message Reply: 10 - 15
eldave1
Posted: July 8th, 2018, 11:12am Report to Moderator
Yellow



Location
Southern California
Posts
3806
Posts Per Day
2.43

Quoted from FrankM
There is the old standard As You Know Bob, which can occasionally be used with enough of a twist to make it palatable. One variation mentioned on that page is having a reporter interview/question/badger the character.


Good idea


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
Logged Offline
Site Private Message Reply: 11 - 15
ajr
Posted: July 8th, 2018, 11:59am Report to Moderator
Yellow



Posts
1245
Posts Per Day
0.38
Old photos, news articles (as Dave said, on the internet these days instead of print), visiting "the scene of the crime" and getting a memory flash (shorter than an actual flashback), these would all work in addition to the methods you laid out. I think the key is to mix them so that it doesn't look like you are spoon feeding the information.

AJR


Click HERE to read JOHN LENNON'S HEAVEN https://preview.tinyurl.com/John-Lennon-s-Heaven-110-pgs/
Logged Offline
Private Message Reply: 12 - 15
FrankM
Posted: July 8th, 2018, 3:09pm Report to Moderator
Green


Location
Between Chair and Keyboard
Posts
566
Posts Per Day
1.67

Quoted from ajr
so that it doesn't look like you are spoon feeding the information.


Dark Crystal tried to do this as a series of flashbacks when two characters' minds touched, but it didn't really work.

Valerian was much, much worse having the ship computer read the equivalent of a Wikipedia article (and this is after the movie started with a long exposition-heavy intro).

In some contexts, you can have the information appear on a screen. A character is only looking for one tidbit on that screen, but databases being databases a lot more will be displayed for the audience to rush through reading.


Family feature: Who Wants to Be a Princess?
Sci-Fi short trilogy: Timmy
Logged Offline
Private Message Reply: 13 - 15
Steven
Posted: July 9th, 2018, 8:51am Report to Moderator
Green



Location
Southern California
Posts
600
Posts Per Day
0.58
Thanks everyone for the feedback.
Logged Offline
Site Private Message Reply: 14 - 15
 Pages: 1, 2 » : All
Recommend Print

Locked Board Board Index    Screenwriting Class  [ previous | next ] Switch to:
Was Portal Recent Posts Home Help Calendar Search Register Login

Forum Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post polls
You may not post attachments
HTML is on
Blah Code is on
Smilies are on


Powered by E-Blah Platinum 9.71B © 2001-2006