Now, for the moment of truth . . . the gates shudder open. The hot wind brushes against his face. The light from the arena fills his eyes. Heart beats fast, fists clenched, jaw set, eyes narrowed, he steps forward from the shadows. The noise from the crowd rises like the ocean roar to greet him. Will they cheer? Will they jeer? Will they make effigies of him for their children, and their children’s children to gaze upon for centuries to come? Or will the lions devour him, leaving nothing but scarlet sand and bones? Only the gods know.
But who is this man?
He is your champion—your story. It fights for you. It represents some part of you; some idea you believe in. It entertains the audience, and, if trained properly and with diligence, it wins your victories, making it well worth the investment.
In this thirteen part series, we’ll discuss the various facets of story construction that will help shape your “champion,” and hopefully, make it a steadfast contender worthy of the critical Coliseum.
Part One: Modus Operandi
Modus operandi is a Latin phrase, approximately translated as “method of operation”. The term is used to describe someone’s habits or manner of working, their method of operating or functioning. In English, it is often shortened to M.O.
This first facet applies to character development. You’ll want your story full of characters that live and breathe and feel organic; they should be recognizable by their actions and their diction, and those should be echoed consistently throughout the story to enforce their personas. The way they move, interact with other characters, their usual course of action should bear some sense of predictability—not in the “Oh, this is boring” sense, but in the “That is totally a (character’s name) thing to do/say.” Lest, some exterior force interrupts that character’s routine, they should maintain a certain identity.
It’s easy to define a character based on the way they look, unless you’re in anime and the only distinguishing characteristics between characters are sometimes as miniscule as hair and eye color, but M.O. really refers to their essence. It is your character’s face, their façade. It could even refer to your style of directing, writing, or music composition. Either way, it needs to be recognizable.
Now, whether it be a handsome face or a grotesque face—we don’t care, but we want to see it, and we want to see it in all lights: negative, positive, under pressure due to conflicts, elated, distraught, and etc. We want to be able to study it closely, and maybe even glimpse similarities to our own physiognomies staring back at us in the mirror, convicting us, encouraging us, affecting us.
We’ll activate each link below as the blogs are posted. Enjoy!