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Character and Conflict

The Cornerstones of Screenwriting

Character without conflict makes Jack Nicholson a dull boy. These two screenwriting essentials are inextricably linked, and in Character & Conflict, Mark Axelrod reveals how to integrate them in a new and refreshing way.

Starting with general principles, Character & Conflict takes you step by step through every aspect of generating compelling characters and gripping conflicts. Alluding to the work of Joseph Campbell and others, Axelrod offers extensive insight into:

  • how a character's arc must progress
  • how conflict shapes and is shaped by character
  • how archetypes facilitate character creation and growth
  • how rites of passage and other plot devices help conflict arise.
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Character without conflict makes Jack Nicholson a dull boy. These two screenwriting essentials are inextricably linked, and in Character & Conflict, Mark Axelrod reveals how to integrate them in a new and refreshing way.

Starting with general principles, Character & Conflict takes you step by step through every aspect of generating compelling characters and gripping conflicts. Alluding to the work of Joseph Campbell and others, Axelrod offers extensive insight into:

  • how a character's arc must progress
  • how conflict shapes and is shaped by character
  • how archetypes facilitate character creation and growth
  • how rites of passage and other plot devices help conflict arise.

Unlike in other screenwriting texts, whose authors tend to offer brief examples to support their assertions, Axelrod bores deeply into the scripts of such feature films as Amelie, Good Will Hunting, and Driven, revealing how to craft-and how not to craft-rounded characters as well as the crises that bring them together or set them at odds.

With exercises that sharpen the skills of both beginning and advanced writers, examples that pull back the curtains on the writing process, plus Axelrod's theories and experience-honed advice, reading Character & Conflict is like taking an advanced seminar in screenwriting, without ever having to leave your writing desk.

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