Character Defined: How to build a better character.
edited: Tuesday, August 17, 2010
By Samuel D Southwell
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Friday, October 04, 2002
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Have you ever wondered how great character are made? Well let me tell you it can be a hard, but rewarding. Here are a few tips I have learned along the way.
What is a character? A character is the player in the story. He can perform the action or he can be affected by the action performed. Characters doing all the talking in fact without them there would be no story. So as you can see the characters are the most important part of the story. However, most people don't know how to bring them to life. In the next few articles I want to show you some tricks you can use to make your characters more believable.
First of all, I want you to know that just about anything can be a character. Characters come in all shapes and sizes. They come in different breeds and species. They can be humans, animals (cats, dogs, lions), elements (the wind, rain, the sea), etc. Characters can be anything you can think of.
Secondly, there are really only to types of characters the main character(s) and the satellite characters. A main character is the star of the story. He is the main focus of the story. Everything that happens in the story revolves around him (which is probably why they call them the star of the movie). There can be more then one main character, but you should try to keep down to two or three. The reason being if you have any more then that people start to get confused.
The rest of the characters are called satellite characters. They revolve around the main character(s). Main characters like most people will not just reveal there inner feelings or just jump into actions without a little push and this is what the satellite characters do. The push the main character(s) into action. They ask the questions that the audience is thinking or what you want the audience to think (Do you know that girl?, Do you love him?, What are you going to do, now?, etc.). They move the story along by revealing details to the main character as well as the audience.
Details, details, details, this is the most important word any writer should know. Details are the key to good characterization. If you don't know anything about your character neither will you audience. The more details you reveal about your character the more real they will become. Some of these details: What is his past?; Are his parents married, divorced, dead?; Does he like sports?, Was he married before?; How many times?; What does he fears?; What are his goals; etc. The more you know about your characters the more details you can reveal.
Now, the best way I know how to find these details is to make a character chart. A character chart is a list of all or most of your character's traits. First you should list your characters physical traits: Height, weight, eye color, hair color, race, etc. You should also fill in other physical traits you would not normally think of: scars, tattoos, piercing, etc. Next you should list all the other things we talked about: his past, his goals, his job, his sexual orientation (is he gay, straight, or bi), his family life (kids, pets, wife, girlfriends, etc.), habits (smoker, drinker, nail biter, etc.), hobbies (stamp collecting, avid book reader, gun collector, etc.) and anything else you can think of to make you character more real.
It is up to you to decide what details you are going to reveal in you story. However, the details you include in your character chart the more details you will have to reveal. Besides that if you movie is a big hit they may want a sequel. So, if you have a character chart on the main character(s), you will have somewhere TO START.