When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with arthouse cinema and novels because I felt they laid bare everything I wanted to learn about the human character. What outraged me or hurt me about human behaviour in my own life became multi-faceted and comprehensible, explorable like science, through fiction.
Today my work is all about character: every day I stop at least once to think about something someone said, and what it says about them; the many miracles of human difference, the dark alleys, the joys, the pain, it’s raw.
It is a rule in screenwriting that every scene has to either advance the plot or reveal something about the character. This is because an important piece of information about someone’s nature will be needed to explain their future action.
This is what character is: future action. Not past, however we analyse it. We are drawn to character like an augur — we obsess over Moons in Houses and INTJs and full stops in text messages to predict what’s coming. We make our life decisions based on what we think about others.
The Greeks thought character was destiny. I agree: the destiny of others.