An important part of screenwriting is developing compelling characters. Many writers struggle with this. Here are a few brief tips:

  • You’ll hear it said you need to make your characters likeable. Don’t misinterpret this to mean that they are good or perfect. Imperfections make characters more intriguing. Javier Bardem’s character (Anton) in No Country for Old Men wasn’t “likeable” in that good sense but he certainly was intriguing. I say, make your characters intriguing.
  • Make the flawed. Make the lie. Having a character lie engages the audience. We know s/he is lying. The other characters don’t. It puts the audience on the inside. Human beings are infinitely flawed creatures. By figuring out your character’s flaws, weaknesses, etc., you can develop a character that is more relatable.
  • Figure out what their overall want, goal or objective is. This is their true north. Everything they do should be moving them toward this. Once you figure this out, put obstacles in their way.
  • Make them active. Letting stuff happen TO the characters isn’t interesting. You have to get them off their duff and doing that thing that will lead them to their true north. The audience will follow that.


I’ll be discussing, in more detail, these and other topics as they relate to character and screenwriting in Crafthaus’ ScriptCamp: Crafting Your Story which is starting very soon. There is still some space available. So now that your Labour Day vacation is over and you’re getting ready to get back into a routine, sign up. It’s easy and fast. Make your creativity part of your routine.

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