“You can make your character kind, caring, generous . . . as long as he stays the top toy
As long as certain conditions are met.
After that, all bets are off.”
Thus spake Andrew Stanton, the writer behind Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Wall-E and others.
It’s widely agreed that every character needs a flaw to make them interesting. For Woody, it’s that he’s selfish. But what happens if you make him just selfish? Well, according to an abandoned storyboard, he doesn’t across very well. In fact, you find yourself not liking him at all.
I mean, do you like anybody who’s just selfish?
But that’s the beauty of the story: Woody is a really great guy – as long as he’s the top toy. Do you know anyone like that? Someone you can’t decide whether you like them or not? Someone who’s only nice as long as? The chances are you do. In fact in all probably you are someone like that. There has to be some point past which all bets are off. That’s what makes us human.
That’s what Stanton’s stories teach us.
But what about your stories? Have you made your character likeable and relatable or simply detestable? Are they a person you would like to know or is their flaw just too visible? We’re all trying to hide our flaws. The great moment in your story is when you choose to reveal your character’s flaw.
When will they reach the point where as long as no longer cuts it?
When are all bets off?
That’s the magic.