1) WHAT you’re trying to achieve
Look. It’s very fashionable to say “character is everything”, but we know it’s not really: a character-led drama is NOT the same as a high octane genre piece; literary fiction is NOT the same as genre fiction. That’s not to say characterisation doesn’t matter in the latter because that’s clearly not the case. But what you’re trying to ACHIEVE with that characterisation will differ. Le duh. MORE: 8 Questions For Kickass Characterisation
2) WHY you’re trying to achieve it
Good writers – no matter what they write – know WHY they’re writing it. Because if they don’t, no one else can get on board with the story. Simple as that. MORE: Q: Aren’t *All* Movies “Character-Driven”?
3) How the character enters the story
So many writers become so invested in their characters, they forget to make the reader (or audience) do the same. So they’ll launch their character into the story with very little thought on where we’re seeing them for the first time. Sometimes, a character will simply walk into a room and start talking, just like that. Yet your character’s entrance is of UTMOST importance. Where is the character? What is s/he doing? What does this say about him/her? Why? MORE: Q: How Best To Introduce A Character?
4) What level of complexity you need
Sometimes writers will overcomplicate things, often because they’re getting on their soapbox — and this is never more obvious in my experience than with female protagonists. Writers know modern audiences are boring of so-called “strong women”, so will try and write something “new” … but will end up perpetuating tired stereotypes. Sometimes it’s better to think of “complex”, rather than “strong”. MORE: 5 Ways To Write A Complex Female Character
5) What level of “unusual” you’re experimenting with
Some characters are so entrenched in a particular type of story or tale, that the moment you change it even SLIGHTLY, that character will seem wildly different. In others, audiences may not get it right away if you don’t clock them over the head with it. Whatever you end up doing however, it’s wise to remember you’re nearly always thinking “left of the middle” rather than completely “out there”. MORE: 4 Tips To Write An Unusual Character
6) What journey the character takes
Storytelling is usually a journey of some kind (though that journey doesn’t HAVE to be about change). Whatever journey your characters undertake then, we have to get some idea of progression, from A to B to C, otherwise why are we watching or reading? MORE: 12 Character Journeys We Can Learn From (No Real Spoilers)
7) Knowing that *someone* will always hate your character!
Whenever a writer expresses worry *someone* will hate their character for WHATEVER reason, my answer is always the same:
i) You’ve gotta get your story produced or published first
ii) Some people out there are actively looking for trouble
iii) You cannot possibly please everyone, so just do the best you can.
What else is there?? MORE: 3 Issues With Casting That Great Character In The Produced Version Of Your Screenplay
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