An excerpt from my script review for Psycho (1960) which will be available 03/29/20:
3.) Quality of Characters
Nervous character making poor decisions.
Of course this begins with Mary, who steals the money and practically wears the guilt on her face.
Each and every encounter leads her into conflict with characters like the Patrolman, a used car salesman, and even a gas station attendant.
You want this sort of friction in your script, because it leads to drama, and drama propels your story forward.
She’s not very good at thievery, and it’s only when she decides to do the right thing that she can again act normal, like her interaction when Norman brings her dinner.
Once she…”exits” the story however, it’s then Norman’s turn to make poor decisions that lead him into trouble.
He cleans up his mother’s “mess” and in doing so, heads down a path where his believed to be deceased mother will eventually be discovered.
Body after body piles up, and the eventually he’s overwhelmed, but it’s pretty clear onscreen to Sam and Lila that something is up with this secluded bachelor.
(In fact Norman only seems to act normal with those he’s used to stringing along, like the Sheriff.)
The supporting cast was also beneficial.
It’s great to have characters like Cassidy and Caroline, who we dislike, and although can’t justify Mary stealing, we’re sort of happy for her having to deal with people like this.
Then you have likable supporting roles like Mrs. Chambers, who more or less makes Sheriff Chambers’s decisions for him, and the private detective Arbogast, who although hired by the off-putting Cassidy, seems to empathize with Lila losing her sister.
So in addition to the great tension being built via the plot, these “living” characters will move your reader from page to page, wanting to see what happens next.
It’s a classic for a reason.
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