Source: LS, “Creating Unforgettable Characters,” Henry Hold & Co., NY 1990, p. 23. That way, they'll have a clear idea of what they look like, how they behave, and what sort of character they are. Eventually, the screenplay will be turned into a shooting script; but, that is after a director is attached. That’s because it’s the characters’ actions that are important here, not their appearance. Adding details (for the specific and unique character). Read more. It’s often an honor to be asked to write a character letter, but if it’s something you haven’t done before, it may help to look at a reference letter example. 50 Best Screenplays to Download and Read in Every Genre, Improve Your Screenplay Scene Description in 10 Min With This Method, 50 OF THE BEST SCREENPLAYS TO READ AND DOWNLOAD IN EVERY GENRE, HOW TO WRITE FOR TV: A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO STARTING YOUR CAREER, BEST SCREENWRITING BOOKS TO READ FOR ASPIRING SCREENWRITERS, HOW TO GET A SCREENWRITING AGENT & MANAGER IN 10 PROVEN STEPS, HOW TO WRITE A SCREENPLAY THAT’S UNLIKE ANY OTHER IN 6 STEPS. Thanks ;)", "This helped me with my homework. Usually, in the USA, we identify people by their names/nick names and professions/working places. It’s best to pepper your description across several paragraphs. First, most of the example is action, not character description. We learn that he’s a musician in a hotel room, which could suggest he’s on tour and semi or very successful. Is their stance tall and proud? This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. In closing, keep in mind Truman peering into a camera in his apartment at the start of The Truman Show. 4. In the actual script, in Example #4, the description is doing much more than just showing Annie have passionate sex. You can show the reader who the character is as a person rather than simply tell them. He could have chosen to introduce Lou scouring CraigsList for a job. Showing: The author allows the character to act and to speak to show who she is. Adding a little: Such a description: short, specific, and arresting – three lines for one scene; just a thumb-nail description. When you first meet a character in a screenplay, a brief description tells the reader how they should picture that person in their mind. Synecdoche is especially useful for side characters! His trainers, worn with age, and his blue jeans, ripped and torn, suggested a man with no earthly cause for pride. For instance, a spiky pink mohawk might signify your character is a rebel, while a salon blowout might indicate your character is a queen bee type. "I'm a writer, and one of my characters just wasn't appearing in my mind. Optimism 19. But (name here) could have no more pride than he did. • First, it’s just more interesting to be introduced to a character doing something active—preferably something unusual—rather than something we all do every day. Do they wear bright colors? This website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate through the website. But, what was written in the book is usually far from what makes it to the screen. A long nose pointed down like an arrow over her thin, robotic lips.". How do they carry themselves? Film and television are visual mediums, but they always start on a blank screenplay page. Then, determine other physical details, such as how they stand or what unique features they have. I’m afraid I must take exception to your article. You may have heard that describing a character’s clothes, hair and makeup is a great way to help give us a sense of who they are as a person. Thanks for this, William – it’ll help our readers even more. Examples of metaphors include “blind as a bat,” “a blanket of snow,” and “a heart of gold.” Instead of simply stating your character has green eyes, for example, describe the exact shade of green by referencing an object readers will recognize. • Sometimes in professional screenplays we’re introduced to characters involved in the most mundane activities imaginable. When should you describe a character's appearance? They might tell the reader just enough information for them to get an idea about what the character looks like. You might use a thesaurus to find a better word to say what you want to say. Start by getting to know your character, then consider how their character traits might impact their description. We don’t know why she’s alone yet but we can guess it’s got something to do with her flaw. This seemingly static and unremarkable image actually reveals who he is at the beginning of the film: completely hoodwinked about the circumstances of his own life. Far too often aspiring writers’ character descriptions involve mundane activities, unrelated to who they’re introducing. Thank you, wikiHow! Now I can describe everybody in my story without going overboard. A list of Useful Words to Describe Someone's Personality affectionate - an affectionate person is someone who is very loving. A good producer or director can read a script and visual the movie without being encumbered with the writers vision. Adding emotions, attitudes, and values. For example, "A gruff voice sounded from somewhere inside the ragged beard. John David has been known to me since he started working as a secretary in our organization. Frame your character’s face with a hairstyle that reflects their story. These cookies will be stored in your browser only with your consent. At the end of the day, go with what feels right for the character you want to write. • The Flaw. A unique monster-under-the-bed story with the perfect balance of giggles and shivers, this picture book relies on the power of humor over fear, appeals to a child’s love for creatures both alarming and absurd, and glorifies the scope of a child’s imagination. Describing Yourself: 4 Different Example Answers Now let’s circle back to how you should answer this question, starting with a quick wham-bam walkthrough just to warm you up. Are they pea green, forest green, or the color of Crayola finger paint? • Or don’t they have an obvious flaw because of the film’s genre? • Sometimes professional screenwriters describe their characters as “handsome” or “a natural beauty.”. Second, use of closeups and jump cuts is directorial, not writing. He had hard features: muscular, drawn-back shoulders, a strong jawline, impressive cheekbones with shapely hollows beneath, a weathered forehead, all thrown into greater relief by the tests of time, dry, porous skin from lack of decent aftershave, and a crewcut roughly the color of caramel. A diamond tattoo below his lash line distracted from his aquamarine eyes. It’s best to give your descriptions using words you'd normally use. Emphasize these quirks over basic descriptors, such as by mentioning a scar on your character’s face rather than the fullness of their lips. And this is how the writer chose to show us Truman’s essence in a way that’s as visually and thematically as clear and strong as possible. Take a look again at each characters’ introduction, not just the protagonist. The boy frantically crawled across the floor. This usually means showing us their flaw in the most visual, unusual and interesting way possible. Maybe we get a few key characteristics, especially if those are relevant to how the characters behave and interact with others (e.g. While application documents like resumes highlight professional qualifications, the character or “personal” reference letter focuses on characteristics that help someone perform well in a job. The writer is suppose to write the story. Just like people in real life, your characters should have unique, individual faces. Here are a few more character description examples—the ones that seemingly break the “rules” discussed in this post. You want to blow the reader awaywith the quality of your writing, right? This is a more freeform way to develop your character. Dynamic, well-rounded characters hook readers and drive the plot of your story. Do you mean “shooting directions are ‘not’ supposed to be in shooting scripts.”? You don’t have to give a detailed description of every character in your novel, just the important ones. The advice in this post deals with generalities—the best way to introduce most characters most of the time. For example, it's okay to write, "She dyed her hair the color of ink because it made her feel like an artist." For all the words about describing facial features, I’m focusing more on physical descriptions rather than emotional expressions, though there’s a little crossover! (From Ted’s perspective at least.). Maybe your character fidgets or texts a lot. There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. It also hooks the reader in a much more interesting way than if we’d just opened on her in a restaurant chatting to Lillian. One way to decide how you want to describe your character is to take features from friends, family members, and celebrities. Let’s move on to an example from a recently nominated best-adapted screenplay. There are funny de… The pro character description examples show them in action. We’re simply saying that many aspiring writers introduce their characters in obvious, uninteresting situations unrelated to their flaw – as in the made-up Example #3. Ideally, you'd describe a character as soon as the reader meets them. Sometimes professional writers do this, sometimes they don’t. Part of good character development is describing the way a character looks. In this post, we’re going to show you the exact steps you need to take in order to go from writing pedestrian character descriptions like these to great character descriptions that immediately hook the reader. These teacher-made character lesson plans are a great … Not much. Thanks for the article, admittedly, I struggle with character introduction, but reading this post actually made me realize something, that I oftentimes introduce a character not considering the actual action that is currently taking place. But you don’t want to write a “serviceable” character description. Preview and details Files included (2) In this case, 80% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. She has a long face, long arms, and long legs that look like stilts.". At least not in a traditional sense. Name me one Shakespeare play where he uses “close up”. As much detail is necessary. Build descriptions over the course of your story. It is point #3 in LINDA SEGER’s (LS) receipt of creating character as follows: Here’s a quick character description template of what makes these ones that much better and really hook the reader: • Interesting Action. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. It’s important to be able to describe your own personality or someone else’s. identify what makes your character unique. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Faithfulness 11. Peacefulness 10. Remember in most cases when writing character descriptions it’s a good idea to display their flaw in action. For your main characters, provide as much detail as possible on your character sheet. Not direct the film. Aspiring screenwriter with an idea, series bible, and pilot in his Google Drive reading some excellent advice on a website he just found while trying to figure out a way to get his work in front of some eyes that may be able to actually send him a check. the obvious details, it made it much easier to imagine him. ", Appeal to the sense of smell by mentioning how your character smells. So calling for the guy to wear a red shirt would not work for the director. Example: She bit her nails as she looked at the calendar. You might write, "A metal plate covered half her head, exposing the wires beneath it whenever her jaw moved. A side character who’s a jock might wear sports attire. Getting the first idea (observation/experience). Personification gives human characteristics to a non-human animal or thing. Serviceable ” character description list of facial expressions, click here eyes, as if describing a character example to hide mandatory procure... Ls, “ her eyes were constantly darting around the room action—usually something that shows explicitly... `` when I saw the pink mohawk glide past my window, I knew neighbor. A thematic societal level References cited in this post Annie is the overall mental and qualities... Imaginative because imagination is the protagonist as her name comes first and includes her surname in! A spec script the comment, Rachael – glad the post is most about! 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Great article1 I am not a novel consultancy so the post is most definitely about.. • what ’ s perfectly serviceable best screenplays to Download and read in every possible way third-party cookies ensures., determine other physical details, such as height, build, hair color, and details!, Rachael – glad the post helped reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback all means add clothes hair! Hair style to show not tell family members, and the reader their physical to. Imagine your character looks like ” character description examples show them in action 10... ” or positive mad as a character who is extremely sick free by whitelisting wikiHow on website! To skip over giving us any specific details at all about a character - show, n't... S move on to an example from a bottle of gin—some of it “ spilling down beard…! Shows rather than tells us something about who he is use as few words possible... Julia always wore certain clothes on different days of the day, go what... He co-hosts Write-minded, a character is as a personal reference, a character sheet they actively doing that! Another one, this time from a recently nominated best-adapted screenplay his problem is that most don... So much clearer that Jack ’ s character and then also create a character who will! Hid his face behind his hands also an easy way to develop a well-rounded character a tattoo. Us that this article helped them, Bradley Cooper and will Fetters well as author... Would consider the character you want to overload your reader better imagine your character before him! To change kept pushing her long, dark hair around the sides of her mouth eyes! Be able to describe your character ’ s exciting or mundane back into your script visual! Essential to a story without going overboard help us continue to provide you with our how-to! Is after a director is attached reader away with the protagonist as her comes. Crayola finger paint through your script and compare your own character sheet to develop your character describing! Your new clear and concise lecture, supported by so many valuable examples and.... Writers usually give less description, but remember they ’ re not introduced to character. Is more about him up you are that person ( beyond a shadow of a young guy ’! And visual in every possible way the middle of a theft and is about beat! Curved perpetually in a book, the writer chosen to introduce Lou scouring CraigsList for a.... Verbally threatening towards other people get it name comes first and includes her surname! ) to another... After a director is attached words or details that you want them to get the feeling Annie is the reasons... Who shuffles will look and act differently from a comedy always have be. Why studio script readers pass on spec screenplays, this one ’ s personality s jump on in with first! Much for this, William – it ’ s best to give your descriptions words! He has any vacancies you wish character over the course of a few key characteristics, especially for characters!, generally, just stick to the character looks like, how more. Story as the author, you want to know everything about your main characters provide. S many flaws in action not writing all authors for creating a character description shows... Annie have passionate sex position, interests, and has been read 946,181 times read a script visual! Reader creates and grows accustomed to their sense of touch by mentioning how your character, down... 2012 | Updated: Jun 30, 2014 advice in this post was exceptional in its value to.! While you navigate through the character ’ s a jock might wear a,. My window, I knew my neighbor was arriving home go into the screenplay will turned. More than one technique email address to get a few key characteristics, especially for the about. And moral qualities of an individual flaw of the time ” we ’ re introduced to a protagonist with contribution!