How 2 Create Movie Characters

Even if your movie is a high octane gun-fest full of explosions and special effects, the story should still be driven by the characters. This is not a TV soap opera you're writing, this is a movie and in movies, characters develop and learn and change. 

Give a character no-one cares about a life and death situation and it's less dramatic than a difficult choice in the supermarket made by a character we're totally engrossed in. And you'll notice that the big story event with the character no-one cares about could be a million times more exciting than the supermarket decision if the characters were swapped over. Put a character you care about immensely into a life or death situation and the audience goes nuts.

Who here didn't cry when ET died? Funny-looking alien that didn't look completely real and waddled around like a duck.  He could hardly even speak! And yet we became so involved in the relation between him and Elliot and their mission to get ET home that his death was highly emotional. Then Spielberg cheated and brought him back to life 'coz aliens can do that and everything was OK again.

My point is simple. Make your characters real but also:

  • Make them layered
  • Make them flawed
  • Make them not immediately obvious
  • Put them in stressful situations where they reveal their true selves
  • Give them history

But most importantly - make them real.

When you're writing dialogue for a character, have someone read it to you. Does it sound natural? 

Keep coming back to find out more about character, dialogue, character arcs and development, interaction between characters and adding drama and tension to your screenplay through characters. 

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