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Creating Unforgettable Characters

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2005


    Unlike her book, Making a Good Script Great, this book is disappointing. Creating characters involves: ¿getting the first idea¿, creating the first broad strokes, finding the core of the character¿finding the paradoxes within the character¿, adding emotions, attitudes, and values, adding details to make the character specific and unique¿ (p.23). These steps are then elaborated in separate chapters (although the elaboration consists mostly of extended examples of films most people would consider to be mixed bags at best, long series of autobiographical paragraphs, and extended quotes from screenwriters about their experiences in writing this or that character). Seldom is information actually added to that already given on page 23. There are also chapters on backstory--use backstory only when you have to (p.56), minor characters, dialogue--¿bad dialogue is difficult to speak¿all characters sound alike¿spells out every thought¿simplifies people instead of revealing their complexity¿ (p.151), and nonrealistic characters. Also a chapter on avoiding stereotypes and other character problems such as unlikable characters and vague characters. There is only enough actual information in the book to fill an article; but if you are a beginning screenwriter, this book (and many others) can be a help to you. The thing to be careful of is emulating writing from movies that most viewers were lukewarm about. You want to learn the best techniques, not the mediocre ones.

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