Creating Characters

23 Feb

Creating characters is one of my favorite steps when writing an original script.  Movie characters must be thoroughly developed if they are to be authentic and convincing.  It is a great responsibility for every writer.

A list of physiological, sociological, and psychological character traits is often where I start.  Attributes like bodily care, friendships, sex life, and intelligence are ascribed.  Here is a snippet of my main character’s traits thus far.

Follow My Film Character Traits Sample

After ascribing character traits, I simply type away and create their lives, beginning with who their parents were, all the way up to the beginning moment of the script.  It is crucial that I not stop and edit myself during this phase.  I simply need to go with my instincts, allowing the character to unfold as I type.

Most certainly, my characters are an amalgam of people from my past and present.  I rarely think of a particular person when brainstorming a character.  My method is to let go and connect with the character as I type, allowing them to determine who they are and what they do.  Again, it is crucial that I not stop and edit or be critical in any way.   I simply must type away.



If you’re a writer, please comment and share some of your methods to developing a character.  I’d love to know…


11 Responses to “Creating Characters”

  1. Susan Kim February 28, 2010 at 6:22 pm #

    interesting…the process does sound challenging…

  2. Susan Kim February 27, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    i think this process is so fascinating. after this process does the character tell you who she is, or do you like to shape who she is in the beginning by creating the facts of her life to conform to who she should be?

    • Christopher February 27, 2010 at 9:12 pm #

      Who she “should” be? Oh no…. I very, very careful try to avoid any shoulds in my writing. Shoulds mostly lead to contrived, heavy handed content, IMHO. If you’re writing a genre film, e.g., a romantic comedy, then shoulds are okay. You want the character to be a certain way to achieve your desired results. However, in my approach, I simply meditate on the character and allow him/her to unfold in my mind, trying to be as objective as possible. It’s like hang gliding: I’m flowing with the updrafts and making a decision here and there. In the end, it’s the wind that determines my options, my flight….

  3. Jingle February 26, 2010 at 9:22 am #

    hope that u enjoy a happy award.
    I could not email or anything, but wishing u the best!

  4. Christopher February 24, 2010 at 12:25 am #

    Thanks for the comments and encouragement!!! I love hearing from you all. I’m going to work my hardest to get that finished product to you, Helen!

  5. Helen Kim February 23, 2010 at 11:34 am #

    Thanks for sharing your process with us all. Not to negate or downplay the journey in favor of the end, but I must say I am looking forward to seeing the final product, whenever that may be.

  6. Art February 23, 2010 at 10:51 am #

    Great Job, Chris. I like to read your posts, very educational and useful!

  7. Tina B February 23, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    I have similar starting points as you’ve mentioned with backgrounds. I find I tend to work backwards from the point in time the script takes place, now and then.

    But also when creating characters, I find that I need to walk around in them for a while. Physicality as well as their psyche. How do the talk? Sound? Walk? Would someone know they were lonely by looking at them? I love character development because it can be highly therapeutic. The mental stuff is very important – how do they feel in their own skin? Gives me a little acting workshop, and I know that the eventual actor will bring other things to it cause that’s their job, but if I know their interior and exterior make up, the dialog comes a lot easier. They get their own voice. I can hear them, feel them, I know what their gut reaction would be to any action in their lives…and then when I have those times where I feel like I’m at a block or a corner, I have dinner with the character, see how they’re feeling and what they would do naturally. And of course, only one character at a time, or they’d call me Sybil as I sat their talking to myself in 4 different voices. :-)

    Then again, I may just need to be medicated.

    • Christopher February 24, 2010 at 12:26 am #

      Wow, what a process you’ve got there, Tina! I agree with you: it’s totally about getting into their shoes and feeling life like they feel it. I totally understand and will definitely take my characters out for some lunch soon! God bless…

  8. vikkiinpink February 23, 2010 at 8:30 am #

    loving your work x

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