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Screenwriting 101: Make every character a Damn Catholic

Saturday, Oct 27th, 2018

So you want to broadcast the main characters thoughts and intentions, but you don’t want to do a voice-over narration in your movie. Soliloquies are so sixteenth-century and you’ve used up your quota on dream sequences. You’ve considered displaying a giant digital marquee, with large scrolling text, over the main characters head, but thought better of it.

How will you communicate the characters thoughts to the audience?

Simple, just make the character a Damn Catholic.

Allow me to set the scene.

“Father, it has been 3 weeks since my last convenient plot exposition.”


At that point, the character is your talking puppet. Just have him say whatever the fuck you want. He can explain his reasons for just about anything. This makes your job – as a writer – a heck of a lot easier. It is founded upon one of the basic tenets of good writing: tell, don’t show. Or something along those lines.

Bonus points for ex-catholic or a person struggling with their faith (“father, it has been 3 years since my last confession”). In the post-modern era, topics of faith — even handled unironically — are like, so profound. You’ll probably get awards for it (or at the very least, a highbrow New York Times article).

If Catholicism isn’t your schtick, try Alcoholics Anonymous, or, simply have the character go see a psychologist to tell-all. After all, everyone in the real world has psychologists. They’re convenient, affordable, and not weird at all. I know tons of people in the real world who have psychologists. They’re all famous serial killers whose auto-biographies I’ve read, but still, I know of tons of them.

Psychologists are so commonly abused for plot exposition that screenwriters eventually needed to come up with a shorthand or nickname for them, because they got tired of writing out the word “psychologist” (too many syllables). I’m referring to the word “shrink”, which is a word I actually haven’t ever heard spoken in the real world. But it’s a part of the everyday speech in TV-land.

Perhaps the only people who can afford psychologists are rich hollywood executives – the people in control of these narratives. Stories of ordinary life are told through the lens of the rich an famous. Much like history is re-written by the victors.. did you know Hitler once saved a puppy from drowning? I didn’t think so.

Let’s face it, we’d all love to have a “shrink,” a nice, well-dressed authority figure solely devoted to hearing us bitch and moan about all the annoying shit in life. This is emblematic of all television and movies: present an idealized version of the world, a world we’d like to live in, not one we necessarily do.

If TV-land wasn’t such an idealic place to be, we wouldn’t spend so much time there.

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