Everyone is a character

There is an interesting interview with screenwriter John August about creativity at the cecil vortex website. Here’s a great excerpt:

CV: How do you think being a screenwriter shapes the way you take in the world today?

JA: I certainly find myself looking for motivation, in the dramatic sense. Motivation is the answer to questions like, “Why is this character doing this thing right now? What does he actually want?” I find that I don’t get flustered or frustrated by assholes as much anymore, largely because I redirect my energy at figuring out why they’re acting a certain way. Basically, I look at people as characters, often ones who have no idea where their story is going.

There are times in life when I also start to see real people as characters in a story that is still unfolding. And this usually happens when they are being assholes. We all know from screenplays that characters don’t often know what they want. The question is, am I unearthing their real motivation, or am I manufacturing one from a writer’s point of view?