Monday, July 15, 2013

Getting to Know Your Characters

Focusing mainly on piecing together your protagonist and antagonist, Crickett Rumley offers 8 questions and an exercise to test your character in action.

Getting to Know Your Characters
Screenwriting with Crickett Rumley

It's worth getting to know all of your characters. After all, they are ALL involved in telling your story. But the most important ones to get to know, at least initially, are the protagonist and the antagonist. Keep them in mind as you address the following questions.
  1. If you were going to write a one paragraph biography about him, what would you write? Where was he born, raised, educated? Who is his family? What's his greatest accomplishment?
  2. What is your character like on the inside? 'What does he think about himself? What are his fears, strengths, weaknesses? List five elements of the ESSENCE of the character.
  3. What does your character want out of life? List his goals, dreams, ambitions. Does your character actively pursue goals, or does something hold him back?
  4. What are your character's special skills? Greatest talent?
  5. What is your character's pet peeve? What annoys him the most?
  6. What is your character's greatest failure? Biggest loss? How have these affected him?
  7. Describe the current situation of your character's life. Does he have a job? Between jobs? Recently fired? Is the character in school? What are the important relationships in his life? How are those going? How does the character feel about his current situation? Is he satisfied? Does he want to change something? What? How?
  8. Given the characteristics, qualities, and goals you've developed for your character, which ones uniquely qualify him to be involved in the story you are creating? Why does this character get to be in this movie?
EXERCISE: Pick 5 of the characteristics you identified. Write a scene in which you introduce this character to your audience for the first time, revealing these characteristics through character actions, interactions, reactions to do so.

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