Don’t Get too Stuck
in Character Analysis

Inspiring Creative Project Ideas

Character analysis is important at the beginning of your journey as a screenplay writer. You need to continually be in the zone of character generation and part of that, in the beginning, is conscious character analysis.


But don’t get stuck in head - here’s why...

I set you up again on the last page. We are faced with another of the creative world’s great paradoxes in this exercise. If you only knew a little bit about these people, I am sure you hit a brick wall after about ten minutes of writing…. Right? Good! Now you know what happens when you don’t do full research on a character.

If you’re a real smarty pants and you chose people you really know a lot about, that’s also good. The question for you is: Were you able to engage your imagination, or did you just spew out a character history based on what you learnt in history class?

And that goes for everyone. If you hit a brick wall because you suddenly realized you didn’t know as much about this person as you thought you did, were you able to fill the gaps by using your imagination? Or, did you sit there feeling sorry for yourself and stop writing altogether, getting stuck in head and over character analysis of what you had written? If you knew everything about the person, did you stick to the facts only, or were you able to fill them out with your imagination?


The man who has no imagination
has no wings.


Muhammad Ali


If you didn’t use your imagination, that’s okay, now you know for next time. Here you always have creative license. Especially when it comes to people from the past. Of course you are able to draw on the records of their great exploits. And get as much information as you can on their private lives from the archives. But when it comes to creating a character for them, which will be the basis for a movie, you do have the license to change them a bit. I am not saying totally distort them. No. But use fact to inform character. Use what you know from history to make strong character choices. What you find in history will allow you to grow an organic portrait of the person you write in the script.

Ridely Scott Showed Marcus Aralias as an incredibly wise and passionate leader in Gladiator. He gave a powerful impression of a Caesar who was renowned for his philosophy and wisdom as much as his military exploits and conquering. To create that kind of character one can only work with facts to a point. Once the basic historical character analysis is done, then imagination takes over and fills out the facts into a character.

Do not ignore the facts. But do not let the facts rule you.



Exercise

From now onwards, every movie that you watch, pay special attention to the character traits of the lead characters. Do the best you can to get a glimpse of the character history that the writer created for them. Try and get into a mode of intuitive character analysis.

Mentally make some notes.

  • What is their favourite colour?
  • What are their pet hates?
  • What are their pet likes?
  • How do they see the opposite sex?
  • If you know something about star-signs, what star-sign are they?
  • What was their life like growing up? Etc.
  • What are their strengths?
  • What are their weaknesses?

See if you can discern their character history within the first few minutes of the film. Then watch and observe if you are correct, as the character is reveled to you later in the film.

Well that’s all for this page, there is so much more to consider with character analysis or not to character analyze , but that comes with practice...

Simply Love,
Finbar Kilcoran in association with
the Adventure Learning Flyers


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