Write 2 Be Magazine

For the Artists Who Like to Remain Strictly Out of the Box

Tips for Writing Great Characters for a Screenplay by Debra Hildebrand

Creating original and memorable characters can set a screenplay apart from the pack. Strong characters can help to capture the imagination of viewers and hold their interest long after the movie has ended. And because too often movies wind up filled with the same, stereotypical people that viewers have seen time and time again, they can offer writers an opportunity to stretch beyond the everyday.

Now this doesn’t mean that every screenplay should be filled with odd balls and weirdoes in order to make it unique. However, when you develop characters, don’t be satisfied with just the everyday. Give your characters something special: a unique look, an unusual way of viewing the world or even a quirky mannerism. Find something to distinguish them.

Know Your Characters and Their Back story

Naturally, the only way you can truly create unique characters is by knowing who they are and where they come from. That means you need to know their back story.

The back story doesn’t have to be pages and pages of information about each character, it’s just that one thing that defines how or why the character moves forward in the story. It may be that the character just lost someone they love (think Tom Hanks in “Sleepless in Seattle”) or perhaps they lived a different life (like Clint Eastwood’s reformed killer in “Unforgiven”).

It’s important for the writer to know each of their characters and each character’s back story in order to understand how the character will react to what transpires in the script. What can make or break the story is when a character acts completely contrary to what the audience expects. It can break it if it seems out of place or unreal. It can make it if the change is because the character has grown. This is called the character arc. This arc or growth is an important part of any good story.

When viewers ride along with a character and see the character’s view of the world around them change, that’s character growth. And that’s interesting.

Make Them Believable by Creating Details

Another important step in developing characters is making them believable by giving them personal details that make them human and differentiate them from others. These personal details include things like emotions, imperfections, problems, values and depth.

Yes, you may occasionally want to throw a stereotypical character, like a villain, into your story, especially if you are writing comedy or action. However, consider changing the traditional view of the character by adding something new or different to change him up; think of Robert De Niro’s character in “Analyze This.”

Keep in mind that each of your primary characters needs a different voice. They should have different points of view and mannerisms so that it is easy to distinguish them from one another. Naturally casting will have a lot to do with how the characters look, but it is your job as a writer to provide them each with a distinct personality. You don’t want a bunch of little Stepford Wives in your screenplay.

The beauty of creating real-life three-dimensional characters is when they seem to step off the page. They are people you would like to share time with. That’s when you know you’ve written great characters for your screenplay.

About the Author: Debra Hildebrand’s Profile | Debra Hildebrand’s Articles

Please visit http://www.newamericanscreenplaycontest.com for an opportunity to get your screenplay seen and possibly produced in Hollywood. As a freelance writer, Deborah has published business, career, education, travel, sports, health and other articles both on-line as well as in magazines and provides content and support to a variety of newsletters and websites. Her background consists of BS degree from CSUN and 20 years in the corporate world as a human resources generalist.

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About jcladyluv

Jimmetta Carpenter is the Editor and Creator of the Free Fall Literary E-Zine and the Spoken Like A Queen E-Zine. She has dedicated herself to the power of the words and given into her passion for writing and has been writing poetry officially since the age of ten. She has a book of poetry titled “The Art of Love” published through lulu.com under the pen name Gemini. She is currently finishing up with her first novel and already working on her second. In 1998 she had her poem “Rest In Peace” published in an anthology put out by the International Library of Poetry and in the Spring of 2007 will have another poem titled “Through The Eyes of an Angel” published in another anthology also put out by the International Library of Poetry. She was also awarded the Editor’s Choice Award for that poem as well. She is looking forward to having a very long and rewarding career in writing and hopes that through living out her dreams she can inspire someone else out there to realize theirs. Her advice to other up and coming authors is to NEVER stop believing N your dreams and don’t ever be afraid to dream big. Jimmetta can be contacted by sending her an e-mail at freefall_lbp@yahoo.com or jcladyluv@yahoo.com.

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This entry was posted on February 14, 2013 by in The Craft of Writing and tagged , , .

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