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  • Characterizations

    How long and how detailed do you find most of your characterizations to be?

  • #2
    Do you mean within the wording of the actual screenplay? I sometimes do a little character description when first introducing a character, but not too detailed as I've been told that tends to encroach on director territory and a reader may have a totally different idea and you should let them use their own thoughts/imagination. But I still do a little bit of description when I think the reader would be totally clueless as to my intentions for that character.

    "Characterization" usually comes out as the story unfolds, doesn't it? The whole character arc thing is all about how your characters act and react as the story unfolds.

    I guess dialogue is a good way of giving your characters separate identities, as well. I've read scripts where every character spoke with the same voice. That's not good.


    • #3
      You've picked a huge subject, amigo... Characterization as in introducing? Arc? Motivations and how they work for the character? What you've asked is so broad that it can't possibly be answered in any easy way... You should probably ask specifics...

      If it's simply the introduction of, say, the protag. Be descriptive in such a way as you explain more than just the appearance, but get to the heart of the character... Like the line from "Training Day".

      "He could kick your ass with a look."

      That's the @#%$ people want to read.

      Here's a few of mine... some good some bad... take them as you will...

      In body armor, NICK STRUTHERS, wears harder features and possesses a more cast iron build than his choice of vest.

      At 24, MONICA NICHOLS wears clothing like a kitten wears a downpour. She won't use make up, and so far hasn't had to, but a fascination with flooring makes it so few notice.

      On the floor, propped against the desk with a gun in his lap, ROBERT GLASS, a disheveled wreck with smooth, almost hairless features at 45, frowns as he completes his task. His eyes may dart, but the shadows don't move.

      Okay... maybe they all suck... back to the drawing board.


      • #4
        If you do indeed mean introductions, I almost always do it like this:

        Name (age) - two or three descriptive words or phrases - active predicate.

        I try to keep my "descriptive words or phrases" filmable (none of this "a persnickety software engineer" stuff.)

        Like this:

        JIMBO (late 50's) - rail thin, hunched, dressed in filthy rags - steps out of a cherry red Ferrari.

        For the protag, I sometimes go a little longer, maybe another sentence or two.


        • #5
          I tend to do the opposite.

          JULIA, 20's, so hot she gives eunuchs erections...

          MICHAEL, 40's. If you gave him a Stetson and a whip, he might go find the Holy Grail.

          LUTHER, 50's, the type to buy used panties on Ebay.


          Revisionist, I don't think yours work because I had to read them a few times and still don't know what they mean. Like what does kitten wearing a downpour mean?


          • #6
            MICHAEL, 40's. If you gave him a Stetson and a whip, he might go find the Holy Grail.

            Didn't Indy wear a Fedora? <crack!> Ow!

            Revisionist, Monica's description confuses me utterly. But that's just me, shrug.

            My Web Page - naked women, bestial sex, and whopping big lies.


            • #7
              I generally do something like this:

              GARY (40, combover) hovers over Virginia while she makes the customer's burger.

              Three pickles. Always three pickles.
              Three. Not two, not one, not three.
              I mean not four. Three.

              I like to keep the character descriptions as brief as possible and let character come out through action and dialogue.


              • #8
                You can never be too careful when a woman touches a man's pickle.


                • #9
                  Good action-based characterization

                  Good action-based characterization is the quickest way to pull a reader into your script. In the long term plot may sell a screenplay, but in the short term I'll bet it's characterization that catches and keeps the reader's interest.

                  That's why a script's being "character-driven" is vital. Otherwise you're just moving chess pieces around the board.


                  • #10
                    Re: Good action-based characterization

                    That description was from an older version of "Site 3". The "wears clothing like a kitten wears a downpour" thing was supposed to mean she wore baggy, loose fitting, droopy, clothing. She's an introvert. And dresses to match.

                    It's now simply...

                    A petit 24, MONICA NICHOLS wears clothing straight off the XL jogging rack. She won't use make up, and so far hasn't had to, but a fascination with flooring makes it so few notice.


                    • #11
                      Re: Good action-based characterization

                      Shouldn't ANY of your similes or metaphors make sense, Revisionist?

                      I mean...



                      • #12
                        Like what does kitten wearing a downpour mean?


                        • #13
                          Sometimes Occam's razor works here. From Rev's own description of the character:

                          MICHELE NICHOLS. She's an introvert. And dresses to match.


                          • #14
                            Get coal in the stocking this year PW? Hey, I'm willing to admit when something doesn't work... So, it doesn't. Get over it. And have that morning coffee. People might get the idea your antisocial...

                            Love the gif, mb... But minus the umbrella was more what the original description was about... But since THAT didn't work either, I humbly back away from an argument over something totally pointless.

                            Definitely thought Ham's were great examples everyone here can learn from.


                            • #15
                              Thanks for all the tips and great examples! What about all the information you compile on each character to better get to know them? How long and detailed do you find those to be?