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Interesting Characters

[ Edited ]

We will explore the way you create characters for a movie. Read Chapter 3 of Writing Movies.

Interesting Characters

Plot alone won't make for a good movie. You need to populate that plot with interesting characters. Obviously actors have a lot do with how the characters come off, but the best characters are memorable before the shooting even starts. They leap off the page as interesting people.

You'll probably spend the most time working on your protagonist. The protagonist needs a goal that he or she actively pursues throughout the movie, as well as an arc of change, and that all-important appeal factor. And then you want back up your protagonist with a number of interesting secondary characters. You might have an antagonist and a character with whom your protagonist has a crucial relationship, and probably a few other characters. If you think of one of your favorite movies, you'll probably remember several characters that grabbed your interest, not just one.

One of the best ways to make characters interesting is to give them contrasts within their personality. People in real life are not all good or all bad and, for the most part, the same should be true of the people in your movie. A hero who is perfect is boring. And even villains are more compelling if there is at least one thing admirable trait in their personality. Most characters lie somewhere between hero and villain. Think of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind. Is she good or is she wicked? She's both, actually. She has all kinds of qualities -- courage, tenacity, intelligence, etc. -- that we can admire. And she has a list equally as long of flawed qualities -- deceitfulness, selfishness, inappropriate lust, etc. Chances are, even you have a mixture of admirable and flawed qualities.

The Viewing Assignment

The Writing Exercise

Find a story idea in the news, from the newspaper, magazine, Internet, or TV. Now, pretend you're going to base a movie on this idea, albeit by fictionalizing many details.

Then get a rough idea of whom the protagonist would be. This will be a fictional character. You don't have to worry about the plot, just this one character.

  • Give this character a name.
  • Briefly describe this character's occupation and/or hobby.
  • Briefly describe this character's home life.
  • Briefly describe an admirable quality of this character
  • Briefly describe a flaw to this character

To share your passage with the group, create a New Message and use "(Your Book Club User Name), Interesting Characters -- Writing Exercise" in the subject line.

Message Edited by Jessica on 05-24-2007 01:32 PM

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