What's the difference between Uniqueness and Complexity?

Joel A. asked: I have difficulty grasping the difference between Uniqueness and Complexity. So a character can be Unique but simple or a character can be Complex but common? I know that I am a bit lazy by not reviewing the lessons since the Pilot phase; but at the same time, I may get a new perspective from the answers.

Uniqueness is what makes your character different. As we saw in the video with the Oddball Effect, people pay closer attention to novelty. So what makes your character novel, or unique, is what will capture the viewer's interest, and draw them into the story.

For The Remarkable Ones web series, we filmed the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin: Chris Darwin. Chris Darwin has a lot of Uniqueness— things that made him different. He wears tweed suits in everything he does, including hiking in the forest. He co-hosted the world's highest dinner party in subzero temperature's on Peru's tallest mountain. And he gave up a successful career in advertising in London to become a climbing guide and environmental activist.

Complexity is what makes us believe in the character. It's the "why" behind her desire that grants her depth and integrity. Complexity is what sustains the connection between the viewer and the main character of your story. It's what keeps the viewer rooting for them to reach their Desire. It can be the "why" behind their Desire, or it can be that they have an especially challenging situation.

Complexity is often the most difficult for folks to grasp, so I'd HIGHLY recommend also taking a look at our case study: "A Deeper Look at Complexity" to read an expanded definition and more examples of this.

But going back to our example of Chris Darwin, his Desire is to prevent the mass extinction of species. Of all the causes he could choose, why this one? Well, he's continuing the legacy of his great-great-grandfather and evolutionist Charles Darwin, who mentioned that he regretted not having done more to protect different species and prevent their extinctions.

Overall though, it can help to think of the role that each of the Big 3 Things fulfills for the viewer. Uniqueness captures the viewer's interest and draws them in, Desire makes the viewer fall in love, and Complexity sustains that connection between the viewer and character long-term, keeping the viewer rooting for them to achieve that Desire.