I’m reading a Scriptwriting book which I suspect is aimed at people who have randomly thought ‘I might write a script’ because it is going into the most basic of premises, such as; you must know what your story is about. I must be naive, because I thought that would be the minimum trigger for making you want to pick up the book in the first place.
But the thing that is popping up a lot is reminders that the lead character in your movie is not you. This makes me laugh as it seems to be a universal problem with writing; nearly ever writer writes their first major story with themselves in the lead. It is almost like a rite of passage and one of the many reasons why most of us write our first novel and end up putting it in a drawer so we can get started on our first publishable novel.
My first novel starred not only me as the lead character, but all my flatmates (and I had five) as main characters, as well as a few celebrities for love interests. I would stick up the new pages of the story in the bathroom so everyone could read the next instalment (I got the bathroom because two of my other flatmates had already claimed the kitchen door and the living room wall for their stories –I was very lucky to live with very creative people).
That story was a lot of fun, and reading it now I love all the references to things that were happening at the time. I actually pushed on and finished it, convinced that others would love it as much as I did. And finally, once I had 60,000 words judiciously typed out (on a typewriter no less, computers were not as available back then and printers were dot-matrix format – gosh that makes me sound old. TVs were in colour if that helps) I realised that I had that novel that I kept reading about in all the writing books; the unpublishable first novel.
We tend to start writing what we are most familiar with, us of course being head of that list. But the truth is, unless you have lived an extraordinary or tragic life other people generally don’t want to read about you. People want to read about amazing people, or they want to read about someone like themselves; the every-man character, who is not you.
So write that book or story with you in the lead. Learn how to put the sentences together so they flow, breathe life into your story arc, press on past the doubt and hurdles and get to that magical ‘The End’ – but make sure to get straight back to the keyboard and get started on the book you were practicing to write, the one for the rest of the world.
You can always start a blog if you want to write about yourself 😉