Character Arcs Miscellaneous Screenwriting Screenwriting Tools

Character & Story

Story comes out of Character.

No matter what world you create for your characters, or the inciting incident that sets them on their journey, nor even the conflict you think will drive the story, it all goes nowhere if your character is not well developed.

Character development begins in their backstory, where you can explore the emotional wounds or traumas that made them who they are, which impacted the unique traits they developed up to the point where you introduce them to your viewers. 

Your characters’ unique traits will compel them to make decisions and take actions in response to the inciting incident and it will impact their dynamic with the other characters. 

When we set a shoot schedule for filming, we have a saying: “fix it in prep” which means you analyze the screenplay and all the moving parts needed to bring it to life on screen so that you can plan for any potential problems along the way. 

I apply that principle to screenwriting and I “fix it in prep” which means taking the time to really explore my characters’ backstories, personality traits, needs, inner conflict, and outer conflict. The primary place I start to consider my characters is in the unique characteristics that impact all of their mental, emotional, and physical responses to the world, characters, and story events. 

I developed my approach to character development, in part, from what I learned in these two books: (remember to use my FREE Character Development Worksheet to put all your character notes in one place)

Negative Trait Thesaurus

Positive Trait Thesaurus

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