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Screenwriting - The Secret Of Creating Fresh And Original Characters

By Author: Walter Stewart
Total Articles: 37

Movies with hackneyed characters don't cut it in today's market. The viewers are too sophisticated. They have seen hundreds if not thousands of movies and they have a pretty good sense of what's been done before.
Producers? The same. They don't want to sink in millions of dollars just to offer another Mad Max, James Bond, or My Fair Lady to the public.
So what's the secret to creating fresh characters? Two words - DARING COMBOS.
Combine discordant traits and lifestyles in one character and all of a sudden you have a living, breathing, exciting profile that the viewers would be curious to know more about.
Take a "mafia boss," for example. A staple character of many mob movies, correct?
So if you've written about yet another Tony Soprano or Don Corleone, you blew it.
However... What if your "mafia boss" writes poetry, secretly submits them to various contests, and one day wins a major national poetry contest and CNN tries to interview him?! Think about the embarrassing complications to follow...
A college professor... what if she is also a rodeo rider in summer months? Or what if she is exposed for not having finished even the elementary school?
A garbage truck driver... can he have healing powers? Can he turn the municipality dump site into a shrine for those seeking quick remedy for their terminal maladies?
Can a grandmother from Old Town, Maine turn out to be a contract killer hired by a prominent Wall Street broker to neutralize... (whom) ?
How about a masochistic and bulimic secret agent?
Here is a little fun exercise:
Prepare two columns.
In the first column write 20 very specific professions (like... gourmet cook, technical writer, Peterbilt tractor-trailer driver, ordinance museum curator, etc.).
In the second column write 20 very specific hobbies, quirks or crimes (like... has affair with a Brazilian soccer star, has to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes, speaks 17 languages fluently, etc.)
Then draw lines between the items in the first column and those in the second and see what kind of creative sparks start to fly. You might be most pleasantly surprised.
Your characters will be as fresh as you can be daring in your writing.
So don't pull any punches when you are creating your heroes and villains. Or your film will suffer a quick and quiet disappearing act at the box office.

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