Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

It’s not just plot – characters matter too!

Dec 20, 2015

In a previous entry, we mentioned the importance of unforgettable characters – characters which leap out of the screen and scream (or whisper), “Remember me! I am relatable, admirable, or just simply, very lovable.”

These memorable characters add flavour to your films! They’re one of the many ways your audience can engage with your story. So how do you create amazing characters? How do you get viewers hooked on not yours, but your characters’ stories? How do you mould a being so fantastical, people can’t help but want to know more?

Well, here are some tips we’ve got for creating such a being:

  1. Don’t be afraid to know everything about them
    How do they like their eggs? Or do they actually hate eggs and is a diehard vegan – with a thing for Pad Thai? Point is, dive in – don’t be afraid to know little, random details about your character that might seem utterly ridiculous or sometimes, a little too personal. This can add humour or depth, depending on what type of information you think would suit your baby-in-the-making.
  2. Use the people in your life as inspiration
    Just don’t tell your loved ones it’s based on them – they might realise it for themselves after they watch your film! But yes, feel free to get some inspiration from the people in your life – it could even be someone you’ve met in passing. Maybe the way they get so angry about being late, but are a champ because of their generosity – inspires you to build a superhero who gives his time freely and fights hard-core procrastinators that always miss deadlines!
  3. Ask yourself: who do you want to be?
    So many guides tell you to write about yourself, your own stories, or things you already know – but let’s bend this rule a little and say, write about your passions. And some of us are passionate about the type of person we want to be. Do you have a dream personality? An idea of the perfect person etched in your mind? If you do, why not write about them? Put them in scenarios you’ve been in, and ask yourself, “How would they react?”
  4. They don’t have to be perfect
    When someone is entirely too amazing with not a flaw or problem in sight, they can make for a boring character or someone your audience simply can’t relate to because, no one in life is perfect, so why does your character have to be? Even if they’re a crime-fighting superhero – think of Superman, Spiderman, the Avengers – they’ve all got weaknesses, and it’s these weakness which make our hearts melt, gasp, or cry in empathy.
  5. Experiment
    Characters don’t just have to be people – look around your room, think about all the things you use regularly, and ask, “What would they be like as a person?” My calculator would probably be a mathematical genius who secretly judges me because I ask them stupid questions like, “What’s 1 + 1?”

Written by Belinda Tang