The Secret to Creating Award Winning Characters

If you've ever slaved away at your keyboard in an attempt to come up with believable three dimensional characters until the urge to tear out your own eyeballs was almost overwhelming, then you're an idiot.


Stop right now because all of that work you've done? It sucks.


Lets face it, by the time you've bashed out a few scripts, you've already raped your entire extended family of all the juicy dysfunctional character material you can squeeze out of them. Unless, of course, you're lucky enough to be born into a celebrity family. In which case, you really don't need my help. But if you're just a normal schmuck, there ain't no more. Sorry. And all the talent, all the long hours, all the brainstorming in the world, will not help you get out of your own small area of dysfunctional expertise to a place where you can create truly exceptional characters out of thin air.

What you require is the ability to plunge with ease into the depths of the less than savory side of the human condition. You need to be able to do this in order to find that perfect combination of character flaws that will attract A list actors, and get them excited enough to want to get into bed with your script and rub its pages all over their body (because it makes them THAT happy - until they have a painful, unfortunate incident with a brad, then the love affair is over. But I digress...)

You want those outrageous yet believable character traits, but you suck at them. Sure, you can milk your own family neuroses and squeeze out a character or twelve, but unless your childhood really sucked that much (in which case you're reading this from prison) you're really limited to a small number of dysfunctional character traits that you can pull from your own life.

CUE the long, hair pulling nights as you attempt to get into the head of a fictional character way outside your area of psychotic expertise.

There is sooo no need to go to all that work and angst. What you need is real life experience.

And how to get it, is one of the best-kept secrets in town. Good thing you have me to let you in on these gems of wisdom.

The one thing every screenwriter needs is an online dating profile.

I kid you not. There, in the magical world of online dating, you will find an endless supply of people on which to base your characters. And not just any people. Broken people. Like smashed with a hammer broken. All with award winning material baggage you couldn't have dreamed up in a million years.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This will in no way help you on your dating quest. Do not go there with the mistaken belief that you may find love. These sites are simply a clearinghouse for the not yet committed or imprisoned. *

With that in mind, sign up immediately, and shop for your next great Academy Award winning character. You'll have your pick of quirks, flaws, fetishes, and downright pathologically messed up people. It's like a writer's wet dream in there!

Where else can you find such a vast array of lying techniques and painful examples of grandiose self-delusion? It's a gold mine of material!

If you're skeptical that online dating can vastly improve your character work, I suggest you take a peek at Desperately Seeking Something...? for a shining example of what is out there. I couldn't make this shit crap holy god there really is no other word for it up if I was on Paramount's payroll! (WARNING: the site contains extreme graphics of real life people looking to meet you - with damn funny commentary - literally the Darwin list of online daters.)

So sign up for dating sites immediately and cash in on a smorgasbord of characters just ripe for the picking.

And don't stop after trading a few emails with prime candidates. Get out there and meet them! Get into their lives, get sucked into their drama and psychotic episodes, and get the material you need!

What's that you say? You're married/involved/whipped? Who cares! Sign up anyway. It's research! And if your other half truly loves you, they'll understand. Hell, invite them along for the meet-ups. It can be fun for the whole family (and you know your significant other is always begging to be more involved in your work!)

But word of warning - It can be dangerous. Pick and choose carefully or you'll end up communicating with an actor trying out a new character bit.

On that note: Take a tip from the actors and don't limit yourself to one profile. Get into a character of your own. Always wanted to be the opposite sex? Now's your chance. Ever wonder what it would be like to have some bizarre fetish/deformity/taste in political candidate? Give it a whirl and see if you can pull it off.

And try out different ads to attract the broadest base of prime samples.

Something like," Former convict, unable to be near parks or school grounds, seeking young looking boyish gal for fun times," will attract a much different class of dysfunction than, "Hot older man looking for ample breasted blond with daddy issues."

You could try all sorts of things like: Single 24y.o. uneducated female with seven kids seeks nice guy who doesn't do too much crack.

OR

My girlfriend just dumped me and I have no place to stay. If you can cook, maybe we can get it on.

OR

Hot single screenwriter seeks elderly or terminally ill uber-rich sugar daddy with no living heirs for quickie wedding with no pre-nup. Serious applicants only please.

Wait. That last one is my actual dating profile. Don't use that.

The point is, let your imagination run wild and see what prizes you reel in. Your writing will thank you for it.

I promise, just a few weeks of online dating will open your eyes to a whole world of real life character possibilities just begging to be put on screen.


That's not to say that the characters will write themselves. Once you have gotten into their nightmare inducing amazing heads, you'll still have to do all the actual writing, but you'll now have a solid foundation of personal scars experience to draw from in order to create characters so real they leap off the page.


But what if you've done all that and are still struggling to bring your characters to life on the page? In that case, I'd highly recommend that you run, not walk, to Max Adam's character workshop before the last few seats are gone. Fantastic writer, great teacher - You couldn't ask for a better place to workshop all that new found dating material.

So do your scripts a favor and try the online dating thing. Your perfect character is out there waiting for you.





*The blog author claims no responsibility, and cannot be held liable for any reader seeking true love through online dating.


Great picture by eirasi

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for the plug Christie. Smooch!

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  2. You're very welcome. And thanks back for the hot smooch action!

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  3. "until they have a painful, unfortunate incident with a brad, then the love affair is over."

    HA!!!

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  4. CJ, you mock my pain! Er... the pain of some stranger that I have no connection to and have never met. It's probably totally fabricated and could never be based on real life events. Umm... forget I commented.

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  5. Never thought of reading dating ads for character business. Friggin' brilliant idea.
    I used to read them for entertainment. Man o man is there a gold mine in that stuff.

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  6. If you're not going to go the extra mile and post an ad, can I 'borrow' your picture? ;)

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  7. And don't forget those swinger sites, Single Screenwriter. I've been...I mean I've heard...they're very, very interesting. Just sayin'.....

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  8. Jules,

    That's an excellent suggestion for those seeking advanced character work. Thank you!

    It's like I always say: If your hip isn't dislocated and there's no restraining order, your script isn't done.

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