Character Development for Films

Knowing how to create characters for film is crucial. All screenplays begin with believable heroes and villains. Without compelling characters, the audience will not care about what happens in the story and there is no film. But how are great fictional characters conceived?
Character Profile Questions


Some lucky screenwriters, like novelists, have been known to create characters with such a life of their own. It is as though the screenwriter is a passive vessel recording what the character would do in a particular situation. The secret to creating compelling and believable characters is to know them inside and out, and this means placing a little of the writer into the character. This will be explained in a moment, but for now, where does the writer begin?
Guidelines for Creating a Fictional Character Profile

Begin with a character profile. Things like age, sex and marital status need not necessarily the place to begin. It could be anything from a name, a bizarre phobia or the way they speak. Such things might trigger the writer’s imagination into adding other characteristics and aspects of the character’s essence until a fully rounded character is formed. The following pointers might help the writer make a start upon character conception.


Movie Writing Tips for Avoiding Stereotypes


Stereotypes are characters that are so ingrained upon the subconscious, they almost appear invisible: The eccentric professor, the rebellious teenager, the grouchy old man. Try projecting an unexpected characteristic upon a stereotype, in order to bring them out in sharp relief. The eccentric professor who is fastidiously tidy, the rebellious teenager who knits, the grouchy old man who secretly gives all his money to charity.

Developing Believable Characters in Film


Observe, observe and observe again: On the train, in the library, at work, even on family get-togethers. People-watching might help the writer practice using their imagination. For example, in what the person might be thinking, what brought them here, the inner forces that might be driving them, their hopes for the future and their fears, regardless of any accuracy.




Mind over body is often true when it comes to character conception. Things like taste in clothes, their build and posture often reflects what is within. However, experimentation with changing the sex or age of the character after conception might help create a more intriguing character.


Movie Script Ideas for Creating Characters
Creating a full profile of a character from their schooling to what shoe size they wear is one thing, but it is entirely another to know what makes them tick. Without a soul, the character might just as well be an empty husk, compelled by the strings of the plot structure. This is where bringing a little of the writer into the character comes in.

Creative Screenwriting Ideas for Character Development


The answer might be to delve deep within and to project a desire, a fear or an obsession onto the characters within the screenplay. It holds true that a believable character can only be conceived if the writer understands intricately what is at their core. This need not necessarily mean duplicating such issues of the writer onto the character, but to change its context, its degree and meaning for the character. A writer who, for example who understands the devastation of divorce, might project their feelings of guilt and alienation upon a fictional character who finds themselves wrongly accused of a crime. The possibilities for projecting such issues are endless.


Film Writing Tips for Creating Characters


Interesting characters need not mean sitting for hours, conceiving every detail of their life, but to begin with an interesting aspect of the character and to build upon it. The rest, such as the physical appearance and marital status, etc. is likely to fall into place. Observation is a practice that often hones the writer’s skills in conceiving character profiles and creating drama. The most crucial part of the character is what makes them tick. Projecting a little of the self upon the character is often the answer to creating a fully-rounded character.



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