Watch this and see how Bradley Cooper, Rober DeNiro, and especially writer-director David O. Russell are so deeply connected to the characters and the story:
Silver Linings Playbook is an important movie, particularly for creative types. First, we know empathy. We experience emotional highs and lows with every story we write. Our job is in part to delve into characters and their psychological makeup, no matter how fragile or broken.
That’s one thing. The other thing is this.
If we want to tell great stories, we need to feel some connection to them. Better yet, some passion for them. That’s when the magic occurs, when the words we type lift up off the page and emerge full-bodied in the minds of our readers.
Why write anything unless it means something to you?
With Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell had a direct connection to this particular story universe, his own son who has had to deal with a bipolar condition:
Even if it’s a genre piece, the only way to make that story come alive is to find your point of emotional resonance with it. Horror, Action, Comedy, Thriller, whatever… what is it about the story you’re considering that turns you on, energizes you, connects with you. What is it about the Protagonist and his/her plight with which you can identify?
If you’re a writer, this should be in your psychological wheelhouse: The ability to empathize with characters. So play to your strengths. Find stories that mean something to you. Yes, high concept. Yes, popular genres. Yes, marketable.
But don’t forget the emotions. Your emotions. What is it about this story that is personal… for you?
While you’re pondering that, go see Silver Linings Playbook. Buy Matthew Quick’s novel.
We need more stories like this.