Creating Good Characters

I’ve not agreed with everything in Writing Drama or any book on writing -because, you know, I rock the party that rocks the party (OK, I’m not sure I know what that even means) – but one area that resonates with me is the pages on character creation.

This is a subject that is absolutely crucial to get right in any script, and there are 101 theories (maybe even 102) about the process of creating your characters. A lot of which go down the ‘write a CV’ or ‘answer 50 questions’ route which I found more destructive than constructive. I found myself giving random answers to these and coming up with characters that were even more disjointed. If you follow the analogy that your character’s core is the skeleton and the flesh are his characteristics then my character’s often felt like they had been blown to pieces in a bomb attack.

The approach I find a lot more helpful is one that simplifies a character’s core by asking just a few questions:
What is his/her objective (not plural!)?
What is his/her internal obstacles (flaw)?
What is his/her external obstacles (layers)?
How does he/her react to different people (we don’t act the same infront of everyone. Add’s more layers)?

This approach allowed me to get a handle on my characters a lot quicker than anything else. And of course you can go back to your 50 questions with this in mind and tailor your answers better, even adding metaphors based on this. (Oooh…)


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