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Building Up a Great Character

Building Up a Great Character

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Published by: allal on Feb 08, 2013
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How To Introduce A Character In A Screenplay
To begin writing aboutcharacters in your screenplay, you must understandthem very well so that you can select the important characteristics that describethem best.To determine how to introduce the main characters in your script, it's importantto first write a detailed biography for each of them. This biography shouldinclude physical, psychological, and historical details.These details will be used to describe your characters and their actions. Whenthe protagonist, antagonist, and important supporting characters first appear inyour script, a brief description of each of them is needed.This description can be as short as one sentence, but it should provide keyinformation about physical appearance and personality. This description alwaysappears before the character speaks for the first time.Basic descriptive points that may be part of a character introduction include thecharacter's name, age, sex, general physical appearance, clothing style,personality characteristics or mannerisms, and anything that uniquely definesthe character.
Building Up a Great Character
A good story needs a great cast of characters to be memorable. When you startyour screenplay you need to think about the characters you are going to writeabout. There are ten things a character needs to be great. These all apply to maincharacters, villains, supporting characters and even minor characters. The tenkeys to building a great character are:
 
A Goal And An Opposition
Motivation
A Backstory
A Point Of View And Attitude
Revealing Action
Growing Room
Plausibility
Details
Research
A Strong Supporting CastLets look at each of these in detail.
If you want your script to become a viable commodity it has to have the following.
A main character who is driven towards achieving a goal
An opposition to your main character who will hold your maincharacter back from achieving their goal
A fight (literal or metaphorical) between your main character and their opposition
An ending which answers the questions "Can the main character achieve his goal?"
A Goal And An OppositionThere is something that your character wants. The character’s goal should bespecific and measurable. Seeking inner peace is not a measurable goal. Seekingthe Presidency is a goal, you know when it has or has not been accomplished.A good goal should be hard to achieve and worth fighting for. Nobody wants towatch a movie about a woman trying to find her spare set of keys. Whatever goalyou choose for your character there also needs to be an opposition, an individualforce trying to stop the character achieving the goal. That individual forceshould make the character sweat and work to achieve the goal, and face an innerfear.MotivationNow your character has a goal you need to ask yourself a question, why does thecharacter want to achieve this goal? What is his motivation? The more personalthe motivation the better. This is why there are so many movies where acharacter has their family kidnapped. There’s nothing more personal andmotivating than that. A deeply personal motivation will allow the audience torelate to the character in your screenplay. This is how you create a relationshipbetween the character and he audience.
 
You need to find what drives these characters, what their concerns are, how they keepgoing, what their goals are. It is only in getting to grips with your character that theywill light up your script rather than dragging it along with them.
A BackstoryThe backstory is what happened to the characters before the movie began.Having a detailed backstory helps bring the characters to life rather than beinginstruments of telling the story. A character’s past should influence how they actand react to things. If their parents were involved in a messy divorce when theywere young then they may be very wary of getting married themselves.Backstory is a great example of the “show don’t tell” adage. Rather than have adozen flashbacks try to bring out the backstory through the way the characteracts, what they say and how they say it.A Point Of View And An AttitudeEveryone has their own world view, attitude and thoughts and feelings. Soshould your character. These things are normally closely related to thecharacter’s backstory. The backstory is the reason for the particular point of view and attitude the character has. A woman who has been cheated on by herlast few boyfriends is likely, and acceptably, going to have a dim point of viewtowards men. Use the character’s backstory to create their point of view andattitudes.Revealing ActionsActions speak louder than words. You judge a character on the way they act, noton what they say or think. Imagine a character who dreams of committingmurder every night, and is constantly thinking of ways to kill people…yet neverdoes so because he realises it is wrong. Now imagine the opposite, a characterwho thinks and dreams of “normal things” yet one day, for no reason, goes outand knifes an innocent person to death. Who is the evil character?Your characters (especially your main one) should always be willing to act, evenif they don’t act in the way they directly think.Growing RoomA “perfect” character is a boring character. They have everything they want andneed so there’s no story to tell. Everyone knows someone whose life seems to gogreat beat for beat, you find yourself envious of them and willing them to fail.Instantly you should see from this that a good character should be imperfect.They have to be willing to try and change themselves for the better. Often theywill try too hard and end up realising they were fine as they were, even if stillaren’t perfect.

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