Devin Kalile Grayson   ------  Wizard World '99 Handouts


Every character must have a scene objective and a super-objective. A scene objective is what the character wants, well, in any given scene. It might be as simple as “I want to kill this superhero in front of me,” or as complex as “I want to impress my superiority upon my worthy opponent here so that he will consider mating with my daughter and ruling my evil empire in my stead when I am gone.” Your scene objective right now might be “I want to pick up some tips on how to become a comic book writer.”

Super-objectives, on the other hand, impose a degree of depth (or lack thereof) on the character.  They can be defined as a character’s overwhelming guiding wish (whether conscious or not) – what the character most wants, essentially, out of life. For your average villain, you could go with the Super-Objective being “I want to rule the world,” but that isn’t half as interesting as “I want to be so powerful that no one will ever threaten me nor make me feel vulnerable again.” Obviously, there’s backstory to that second objective. Using “ruling the wold” as an action on the  way to the Super-Objective (instead of an actual objective) opens up three-dimensional aspects of your character that can be used to engage readers and maybe even elicit sympathy for, or at least interest in, your antagonist.    

Your Super-Objective might be: “I want to be a famous comics writer so that my mom will stop making fun of my collection and finally recognize, love, and accept me as the unique super-genius I am.” 

If a writer is uncommitted and/or unclear about a character’s super-objective, the through line of action for that character – that is, literally, what the character does scene to scene – will read as unfocused and even “out of character.”    

Graphics from: Stanislavski, Constantin. An Actor Prepares. Theater Art Books: New York, 1948

From: Vogler, Christopher. The Writer’s Journey; Mythic Structure for Storytellers and Screenwriters.  Michael Wiese Productions: California, 1992

A character’s objective can change as he or she moves through a journey – in fact, most potent stories work towards a change in the protagonist. 

Your hero will undoubtedly encounter archetypes during his or her adventures (and indeed, some characters – like Batman, for example --  are very closely linked to archetypes themselves), but you can add layers of depth to a character by letting them integrate aspects of some of the more common archetypes into their own psyche. 

Additional Recommended Reading:

Eisner, Will. Comics & Sequential Art. Poorhouse Press: Florida, 1985.

McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics; the Invisible Art. Kitchen Sink Press: Massachusetts, 1993.

Salisbury, Mark. Writers on Comics Scriptwriting. Titan Books: London, 1999

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