More On Behavior Defining Character

In his treatise known as the Poetics, Aristotle defines dramatic action as "the movement of spirit or psyche that produces a character's behavior." Film and theatre director Elia Kazan, in his notebook for A Streetcar Named Desire, remarks that "finally directing consists of turning psychology into behavior." Substitute the word "screenwriting" for the word "directing," and Kazan's statement would still hold true. A character's desires or needs, that movement of the psyche to which both Aristotle and Kazan refer, can be expressed only by his or her behavior. The accomplished screenwriter selects those few details, out of all that come to mind, that will best describe the essence of the character to the director and actors, as well as to the producer, the director of photography, the costume designer, and the set designer—to name a few of the creative people involved in bringing any script to life on the screen.

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