Saturday, 4 February 2012

Scene 2: Personality Check! or Writing Character Advice

Only my second post and I am already disappearing behind the scenes and into scriptwriting to say hooray! Because I think I've finally figured out how to create a well-rounded 3D character before I write them into a script.

Creating a realistic but interesting character is, at least I think, key to a story. Good characters can relieve bad or messy plotting/story to some extend, whilst a good plot can be tainted by badly created characters - possibly, I was going to use Lesbian Vampire Killers as an example, but I wasn't to desperately impressed witht the plot there either, let alone James Corden's character - the actor himself is fine, its just the character that annoyed me. 

Back to the point, I recently purchased yet another book on scriptwriting called Lew Hunter's Screenwriting 434, which impressed me by not seeming to complicated in its approach and not to bogged down in some sort of complex theory. It's advice on character building was looking for the soul of the character by writing out a description, not one of these descriptons:

Name: Sophie Miller
Age: 24

Sophie Miller is a magazine journalist, who lives in London. She moved there from North Yorkshire two years ago after studying English and Journalism at university. She has a chic apartment in the good partof town. She plays tennis, likes Gucci shoes. She has a boyfriend called Nick who is a finanical consultant. etc. etc.

Which I had been using, for some strange reason - despite the fact that Robert McKee's book  Story had pointed out that character should not be a list of traits and ticks, but should be shown through action and how they react - which is good advice too. 

So, anyway, the examples given in Lew's book went something like this instead:

Sophie Miller looks like any normal young office worker at a London magazine - all fashionably dressed, tidy hair and a neat smile. Her only give away is the slight accent, slightly Northern, though she's tried very hard to lose it. Sophie abandoned the hills of Yorkshire two years ago for the dream life of posh restuarants, sharp suited, attractive boyfriends, expensive shoes and yoga lessons. The lifestyle she'd read about in the glossy magazines of the Sunday papers she read as a girl. Now she has it, the finanical consultant boyfriend Nick, the chic apartment, the tennis matches against the glamourous next door neighbours - and she hates it. The London buildings seem to push out the sky. She misses cycling down to the local swimming pool on hot days, and hates spending her time in an office writing about handbags. She's bought tons of handbags now, and she knows, that no matter how expensive they are, they won't change your life. 

As you can see, this sums up the persons thoughts, feelings and here, even their inner conflict. It's not quite as good as the book examples, but you see what I mean about soul? You may not know her favourite type of shoe, but you know her. I would reccomend this exercise to all writers, it really gets you in the mind-set of the character, and I'm definitely using it from now on. 

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