Creation of script characters

The characters in the script are the most important part of screenwriting. When creating characters from scripts, let’s think of scripts as a producer would. This is a good habit because producers are the people who produce your script. Understanding the hand that feeds you is never a bad idea, ever.

In order to get a script greenlit (meaning it’s going to be produced), there are many steps that need to be taken during that process. It is by no means always a straight line from A to B; in fact, it more often looks like drunken wavy versions of the dashed lines you see on the road if you try to draw them. This is what always has to happen:

1. An actor of some prominence has agreed to be the main character in the film.
2. A director of some relevance has agreed to sign on to lead the project.

Do you know what the root of A-list talent signing up to develop a script is, underneath all the money and politics? It’s that someone had put their heart and soul into creating scripted characters. When they were creating their script characters, they cared about the main character enough to think it was worth their time, money and energy to bring that person to life. There’s a lot of work involved to get to that point, but it all starts with creating a lead from the script that prominent creative people can get behind because if they don’t get behind you, how is an audience going to be able to see your work on a big screen?

– Some writers just start outlining their characters by having them talk to each other and seeing where that writing sample takes them. Most writers will openly admit that they struggle with dialogue and that it is the hardest part of writing a script for them. Remember, the most important part is understanding character development in screenwriting. I wouldn’t recommend using this method unless you’re one of those lucky select few who are comfortable writing dialogue scenes; if you feel like pulling teeth, stay away from this one.

– Occasionally, writers have been known to use paintings, photographs, or other visual art mediums to inspire the look of their characters. If you’re creating scripted characters whose job or personality requires them to look a specific way, it’s always a good idea to research that visual style beforehand. Remember, a skilled writer is an informed writer.

– Take about half an hour to interview your scripted character: This is a weird and incredibly fun exercise, and it can be incredibly effective, but only if you choose to fully commit to it. Essentially, the way this exercise works is that you sit down, turn on an audio recording device, and ask your character a series of questions that you’ve already written down. The tricky part is that you have to answer them yourself: you’d be surprised what you come up with, and you’ll earn points if you manage to work with a character’s voice too. Then simply play the tape and integrate the “interview subject” responses into the script, which will definitely help create character development in screenwriting.

– Create the script characters you know well. It’s always fun to do, and I’ve used it several times since I started my writing career at…well, since I started my writing career. However, be careful how you do it: some people are really open to the idea and others won’t be able to get away from it fast enough. If you feel like the person you’re writing about falls into the latter category, then there’s an incredibly simple solution to the problem…just don’t tell them or show them the writing!

Use these exercises regularly to help further your character development in screenwriting, and you’ll be amazed at how fully formed your characters will suddenly begin to look and feel; remember, this is how you engage A-list talent. I would recommend doing this primarily for your protagonist, antagonist, and main supporting characters.

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