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Catching up with tips, day 1: Characters

It’s been a while since our last compilation of Screenwriting Tips, and pay attention because they’ve moved to a new address! This week we’re going to catch up. As there are so many good tips, we’ll divide them by topic. Today: CHARACTERS.

873: What does the love interest offer the protagonist? What does he or she provide which is currently missing from the protagonist’s life? If your answer is “a relationship”, it’s time to dig deeper and find the real answer.

868: Your protagonist should probably not be an idealized version of yourself. And if they are, at least give them your flaws as well.

836: Consider making the ‘funny best friend’ character into the protagonist. You clearly prefer writing in her voice, because she’s in every scene and she seems to have more lines than the lead.

813: Characters can’t just be pushed around by plot. Early in your script, prove to us that your protagonist has agency of her own by letting her make an unexpected decision.

789: When writing conversations between old friends, cut dialogue to the bone. They have their own in-jokes; they know what the other is going to say. When they fight, remember it’s not the first time they’ve ever fought.

788: Suicidal characters aren’t automatically sympathetic. In fact, it takes a lot of work to elevate them above annoying. Wanting to die just isn’t a narrative-friendly goal.

780: Try to give every character — even villains and sidekicks — a chance for the audience to love them. Just one line or one moment for them to be exactly who they are, without apology.

749: When you introduce a new character, have them moving, acting, striving towards a goal in their very first scene. Show us that character in high gear. If you start them off in neutral, it’s much harder to get a sense of who they are.

739: “He’s got nothing left to lose” is pretty meaningless as a description of character. Doubly so when you misspell it as “loose”.

So what do you think?

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