Maybe you've started focusing on the way people talk. Or what they wear. Or what their job is.
But none of those things are really personal. Sure, a special way of talking will set a character apart from the others in your script, but that alone won’t make them unforgettable.
The same is true for the other details mentioned above. All that stuff is superficial. If you really want your characters to shine, you need to go deep.
Keep reading to find out how.
The Guiding Principle of Character Writing
People are defined by what they do. Not what they say or how they say it.
To that end, great movie characters often behave according to the flaw that you've assigned to them, and their actions typically reflect the theme of the movie that they star in.
Another important element of that mantra above? It requires that your characters are ACTIVE. People are defined by what they do. So that means they have to do something, right?
A lot of writers struggle with what an active character truly is. Active characters don't need to be rushing around like chickens with their heads cut off, just to maintain the illusion that they are being ‘active.’
Activity is defined by choice. As long as your characters are making choices, they will be demonstrating character, and they will remain active in their own stories.
Here’s another way to think about it:
We are defined by the choices that we make. (And so are our characters!)
Here’s a link to an awesome blog post I found when I googled that statement:
It’s kind of a new-agey, self help style post, but there’s some real truth in there. Especially when you’re thinking about writing well-defined characters.
Don’t believe me? Here are a couple excerpts:
The choices we make on this journey are what defines our progress and determines which goals we are going to reach and which goals we are going to fail to attain.
There is NOTHING else in the equation that is going to effect our success or failure EXCEPT our choices. Simple as that. Nothing else. No magic formula. Nothing.
So keep this advice in mind whenever you’re struggling to write a character.
If they’re a selfish person, let them choose themselves over others.
If they’re prideful, let them choose their pride.
And so on and so forth.
Remember, without choices, there’s “Nothing else. No magic formula. Nothing.”
Think about your own life. What choices have you made that demonstrate your character? Big or small! Leave a comment below.