Create and work out a character
in 3 steps
Hello to all. This week, I want to revisit a topic that involves all of you and with which you have sometimes small problems : How to create a character ?
I know that I have already spoken more than once on the blog (you will find all of the articles on the subject at the bottom of this page). You begin to know myself, in all the subjects that I deal with : Script, stage directions, technical, I still wish to go a bit further, to simplify to the extreme. If I think well, this article I had to write it first…but nobody is perfect ;o)
Through this article, you will lay the foundations and then by reading the other you will be able to create the card of your characters, work on the emotion, the characterization, how to find the name of your characters, work on identifying etc…Short fine-tune your creation(s) :o)
I’m going to give you 3 times, or stages if you prefer, so that you can create your characters.
First of all, it is important to from the global to finish on the details. Create a character that is like writing a scenario. First, we must know where we are going, that is to say, know what you want to say, know the purpose of the hero before writing the sequences and dialogues. For the characters it’s exactly the same thing.
The environment/ Who is he and where does it come from ?
When I say to you : ” who is your character ? “ I do not ask you his first name or his name…no…for the moment this information are details, or in all cases, it is not necessary to know for the moment.
I put : “who is it” and “where is it” in the same step as the fictional characters are like us (like us). What they have experienced in their childhood, in their past must necessarily play on their personality today.
If I take the example of an afghan who fled his country and who returned to France illegally, he will not have the same fears, the same confidence or the same “scars” as a Frenchman of the same age raised in the 16th to Paris !
I know that this example may be a little too pronounced.
Let’s take the example of a man raised in the 16th. It will not have the same milestones that her next door neighbor, nor the same education if it has parents doctors, and her next door neighbor was raised by comedians ! Let’s imagine that the parents of the latter are French by the father and Indian mother, he will not have the same cultural references as its neighbor…this may necessarily involve : The beliefs, principles, way of eating etc…
You will have understood, by these examples, the environment of each character is important and crucial in a part of its design. I don’t know where I read it : If you don’t know where you’re going, look where you come from.
By typing this sentence I just remembered ! I tell you in aside. This phrase comes from an afghan (just) that Navy Place, the filmmaker with whom I’ve done a feature film in October, was filmed for a documentary entitled : ” everything to rebuild it “ telling their story. Moreover, Navy has obtained the grand prize of the jury of The Acharnière for it.
This makes me think of another aspect of the design of a character : The time and place. I was talking about the Afghans a little earlier. If your movie happens in time of war or in another country, this will necessarily influence the behaviour of your character, or even his way of living.
- Environment/ Education
- Time/ Place
- Social environment
Psychological Aspect/ Who is he ? bis
Know where it comes from does not determine your character. It is necessary that you should ask yourself what kind of person he is.
Here is a very simple example :
I personally have a brother and a sister…despite the fact that we were raised by our two parents, we are radically different ! I rather have a ” go-getter and an extrovert while my brother, two years my junior, is more discreet and thoughtful. This psychological aspect will play a key role on how to comprehend different situations in which you will plunge your characters and the way they will react, just like my brother and me J
We are actually a bunch of psychological aspects. Our personality is complex. Your characters should be, too (to some extent). But before anything you must set a psychological aspect general or dominant if you prefer. Don’t forget that you only have 1H30 to tell your story. You can’t just tell the life of all of your characters. Most of the time, your history tells a very small part of the life of your hero, for example.
Once you know if such a character is a go-getter, scaredy-cat, introverted, extroverted, you can, from there, look for the reasons or to deepen his / her profile.
This psychological aspect may also be determined by the relationships he has with his friends and his entourage.
The practice of a sport can also play on the character in the future. If in his youth, your character has been a top-level athlete, he will be more inclined to follow a directive, to prepare or to know how to manage the stress. It will also have a mind more combative.
This side is high-level sports may also play into his favour. If it does not support failure it can be stubborn to the point of risking losing it all or it may be an asset…it is all a question of dosage and of choice ;o)
Finally you can equip your or your characters different pathologies : Mental, physical, or viral. This disease will affect his life, his reactions, his relationships with others. He may have ocd in particular, a phobia etc…
All this needs to be completed with its dominant aspect. You can see that by starting from a simple psychological point of view it can be paired endlessly with other characteristics that will affect the situations in which you put your characters.
- Introvert/ Extrovert
- Pathology/ Phobia
The profession and its relationships/ What does it do and with who ?
I know that some of you will say : “but that’s his job it doesn’t matter ! And anyway my character is unemployed !” So those who say that…are all wrong !
The business is of paramount importance. Imagine that one of your characters is from a working class family in the north of France. The mother of the household and the father works as an operator in a factory of cardboard…And their 3rd son, your character, became a physician.
Well, despite the fact that he has a good situation today, the sacrifice that has had to make his parents (or not !!) and the amount of work and the barriers that he had to knock down to get there is huge.
This occupation gives him a special status in society and evolve in a different environment than the one you set earlier thanks to the environment and its past. These two environments may come into conflict.
This profession can (should) play on the relationships that he has with the other characters. It may be that these relationships are (or should be) confrontational. In order for this character to become a doctor, one of his brothers may have had to be ” sacrificed “. This brother is out to get him surely.
It is necessary that the relationships of the characters play on the conflict. As said by Joe Eszterhas, the conflict shall ensure the fusion between the vertebrae. That is to say that it is the cement/ glue that makes it tough your scenario. If there is no conflict, the public gets bored and goes away.
The job can be a source of conflict. This conflict must be combined with another ingredient, the attraction. Here again the profession of your character can influence the two.
If your hero or protagonist is a police officer, he chases a cambrioleuse whom he falls in love. There is a conflict and attraction !
Take the example of the character of the doctor. One of his brothers is jealous = conflict, but it may be that their sister to her brother, the doctor, to model = Attraction. Suffice to say that this family is sitting on a powder keg of emotion.
You could find a lot of conflict or attractions thanks to the trades of your characters but I hear some who say : “yes, but if the goal of my heroes has nothing to do with his job ? Or his family ? “
Once again, the relationship should be in the conflict and the attraction at a time. The job can just as well be the source of prejudice, or the business may just serve as a help or a particular talent in your story.
If your character doctor finds himself in a forest or on a deserted island and he breaks a leg, he can make a splint or I don’t know what. It may help a woman to give birth in a boat or a plane.
If your character is a police officer he will be familiar with the weapons…but may be an ideal target if he is sent to prison.
If your character is a teacher of physics/ chemistry it will surely build a homemade bomb ;o)…Etc…
The business is an asset to your history and relationships between characters will help you to intensify the drama. Because you will create real items that will help the viewer to believe in your characters. All these elements will make them more human, more credible and more profound…in short, a first step toward identification.
- Conflict/ Attraction
So, here are the 3 steps to create your characters.
Let me have your comments at the bottom of the article ;o)
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Thank you to those who will make it ;o) and that are already doing that ;o).
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A Sunday next, in the meantime, live your passion out.
Here are other articles that are pure help you to create your characters
How to find a name for your characters
How to give emotion to your characters
Here’s how to create your main and secondary characters
How to master the identification with the characters
How to create your sheets of characters
Introduction to the adaptation of a book Part 1 and 2
The importance of the sequences of the daily life in your scenario
The point-of-view narrative
How long is a short film !
10 steps to write a film