Today we’re tackling the art of developing the perfect character. So, let’s get started!
Now, character development is extremely important because without a great character, there’s no great movie or television show. From Breaking Bad to Mulan - everyone loves a character that grips them to the core.
The first step to developing the perfect character is to make them likable. Who wants to root for a snooze fest? You want your audience to identify with your character the moment they see them. Take this clip from Insecure for example. People resonate with Issa’s character because of her awkward yet funny personality. Issa connects with her audience. She’s likable and her character is someone you want to root for. Alright! Step two! Let the characters do their own thing!
Too often us writers get in our own way and try to force our own desires and wishes unto our characters. Just because you’re afraid of pets, doesn’t mean your character has to be. Maybe you don’t think two enemies can’t fall in love? But what if that's exactly the story line necessary for your characters to be more dynamic and interesting?
Once you’ve done the hard work in creating the back stories of your characters, you’ll find that they begin to write themselves and take on a mind of their own. Trust me, sometimes the best thing you can do is let go of our own ideas and trust your story. Trust your characters.
Step three: Give your character something to work with! Maybe your character has a personality flaw, a haunting secret, an addiction or a disability of some kind. Whatever it is, use it in a way that gives your character depth.
Step four: Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue! What’s your character going to say! You need to give your character compelling, challenging, funny and interesting dialogue for your audience to be engaged. Do they have a witty catchphrase? Are they always giving their daughter in law grief when they come over? Well, that’s the stuff we want to see in your characters!
Now, once you make them likable, you allow them to do their own thing, have great dialogue and you give them a banging backstory... What else is there? Step five: Make sure your character arc makes sense.
Now in case you don’t understand what a character arc is, I’ll explain. The first thing you want to establish to have a successful arc is to know what your protagonist wants. What’s their goal? After you give them a goal, you make it impossible for them to achieve their goal... thus creating conflict. From there you want your protagonist to try everything in their power to achieve that goal which ends up with them having changed attitudes and emotions about that goal. Get it?
So, let’s say your main character, Oscar, is a millionaire bachelor who wasted his money on drugs and scandalous escapades: clique, I know, but stick with me on this. So, Oscar is now going back to his rich daddy’s house begging for more money but his father says no... in fact, he’s disowning him until he learns his lesson! So, Oscar ends up homeless, on the streets and begins his new life. His goal is to get back in good graces with his father and his old life.
However, Oscar encounters many problems on the street which makes it harder for him to change his ways... Which creates conflict in his life. Oscar begins to find odd jobs and begins befriending the homeless community, which in turn, makes him a better person on the inside. Now, Oscar has changed his perceptions about the less fortunate and his father sees that his motivation for coming home is to be a better son - and not to get more money. Wow, I might just write this movie myself!
Now, how can we make Oscar more interesting? Well, we could write him as a man with serious anger problems. Maybe he’s a pianist? Or maybe he’s really good at scheming people but has a soft spot for his little brother? The more layers you give a person, the more interesting they become thus allowing people to see your character as a person that they can connect with.
Today we learned about the art of developing the perfect character. I hope you learned something today. If you want to help us, please leave a comment on what videos you’d like to see next and make sure to like, share and subscribe for more videos like these! And remember, knowledge is power… the more you know, the better you’ll be. Peace.