Character Creation

FADE IN:

Those two words are the words that I both dread and love as a unpublished screenwriter. Final Draft has them at the top of a new script just staring you in the face when you start. Sometimes I'm seated with a notebook on my desk opened to my outline, other times I don't even have an outline to refer to, every time I am excited. Part of the excitement is because the whole story is waiting to be told and it's your story, even if it's similar to a million other stories it won't be the same because of one simple ingredient.

You.

You are the secret weapon in your writing.

It is your thoughts and life experiences that will influence each and every one of your characters, it is who you are that fosters reality and believe-ability in your characters. Through your characters your story forms, in fact I've learned from the long process of writing that if you have poor characters then as good as the rest of the story might truly be it will be crippled. If poor character work is part of your writing then your writing will always be deficient. So I want to share with you a few of the things I've learned so that you can gain confidence in character creation, not that my characters are brilliant, but after 25 years of writing they've certainly improved.

So here are some tips.

  1. Use yourself to understand fears and emotions, When you are attempting to describe details about how a character feels/reacts/responds in a certain situation think of how you responded in a similar situation. 

     2. Create character datasheets. http://www.eclectics.com/articles/character.html That is a great example. The odds are you will not need all this information but it will certainly help to fully flesh out your characters.

     3. Watch real people that you know, watch real people that you don't know through documentaries etc., watch actors and actresses performing their parts.

     4. Read scripts to see how other screenwriters build their characters, read your favorite novelist to see how they create and nurture multiple characters.

 Remember also that a good story is only as good as the growth and interaction of your characters over the course of the story. There must be an inciting factor and point of departure for your character- followed by growth through action and reaction- in order to reach the point towards which your character is growing (and going). Even the most outlandish of stories will be firmly grounded if the foundation of your characters is well founded. 

Character is key,and if your characters have no definition or distinction then the results of all the hard work you put into any project will be wasted.

Writing is fun no doubt about it, but it also entails a lot of preperation work a lot of struggle. I simply wrote this from one writer to a whole bunch of others to help you by sharing some things I have found very helpful to do with character creation and preperation.

The most important thing about writing is this: If you have ever felt of/as if you're called to write then write. Don't let people talk you out of your talent grab it by the horn (so to speak) and enjoy creating the worlds and most importantly the characters that are waiting to explode from your imagination.

Ross


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