// June 5th, 2017 // On Writing

Create Memorable Characters
21 Question Character Bio

by Glenn Magas

AmelieGreat characters drive the story! That’s why it is so important to create memorable characters! A plot driven story is plot driven, but without memorable characters the story and the screenplay feels flat despite how masterful the plot is.

After reading this article you can download a “21 question character bio” that will bring depth to the characters in your screenplay while you write your script!

But before you write…

Create Memorable Characters by knowing your characters!

This is an important process of screenwriting and one of the best tips you will ever receive! Know your characters well. Know them inside and out. This is how to write a story with depth. If you have an idea for a character and establish his or her name, that’s all you have. A name on the page without a voice. That’s why it is important to know each character, their motivation, relationship with one another, and their purpose for being in the story.

Create memorable characters by writing “Character Bios” in detail for both major characters and supporting ones. That way you can have a background for each character which then will drive their choices.

Think about your favorite character from any movie. You may not know that the adult character, at the age of 5, was left at the YMCA swimming pool for two hours because his mother forgot to pick him up. This even may have influenced: how he feels about swimming, his relationship with his mother, his trust issues, or what he fears. But this could be the reason this adult character moved out at 18, lives in the Midwest (away from his family) and has never been to Hawaii. The back-story drives the character’s choices!

You may never see this on film, or on the page, but that character, an Adult in the Midwest – well – there’s purpose and reason for being who he is.

Look back at your own work and find a character who is behaving romantically. The readers may not know how this character grew to be such a romantic, but you better know!

Did he watch his father treat his mother with romance till the day he died in a plane crash? Or did his dad treat his mother horribly until he died in a plane crash and now he never wants to treat a woman this way? Do you know this? If you don’t, how do you justify your character’s action?

Jump into a supporting character’s role and view the world from his or her point of view. Take into perspective how he or she relates or observes your main character. If you can see things from a different perspective, supporting characters may act completely different than you expect!

Find the hardest character in your screenplay to write for and jump start a scene with him or her driving it. You’ll find the hardest character to write for is the least developed character in your whole story! Yet it could be the most interesting character in your whole movie! Go back and write that bio and watch how this transforms his or her choices!

Knowing your character(s) is like, well, knowing the back of your hand as they say. Memorable characters make choices based on their past experiences. If they are afraid of water and that is an integral part of the story, you better know why. If a woman hates roses, why does she use that as a deal breaker when dating a new man? You better know!

If someone asks why your character did what they did – you better have an answer and not one that just pushes the story. There should be a reason for every choice a character makes – and it better not be just to push a story.

Identify with each character, have empathy for their own personal story, and write your screenplay like you have known each character for the past 20 years of their lives! If you love or hate them and have a reason, other people will love them or hate them because you do too! That’s how to create a memorable character!

By creating Character bios for each character, you may find some hidden gems that you might want to include in your story. It’s an invaluable task in screenwriting that leads to a better story, and better script!

Make sure your story drips of character!  Create memorable characters from the most important, to the least important. This will push your story and your screenplay to a new depth.

Attached is a 21 question PDF that I use to compile a character bio. Answer these 21 questions for each of your characters and you will definately KNOW your character and create memorable characters.

Download it here: “21 Questions

Related Articles:
How to write a movie script – break all the rules
Make the first 10 pages of your script rock!
Non-Screenwriting books for Screenwriters




3 Responses to “Create Memorable Characters”

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