Casting Believable Characters for Your Story or Screenplay

By | August 29, 2018

Casting characters for your story doesn’t mean that you are going to cast Brad Pit or Dustin Hoffman as your main character; it simply marks the difference between a flat character and an original character.

Here is an example of a flat character:

Henry: A 35-year-old balding man with a huge appetite for pizzas.

As you can see, this character doesn’t really inspire a full-featured film. To create an original character you must add uniqueness and personality. You should ask yourself questions about the character to flesh him or her out in your mind.

Let’s take another whack at Henry and make him more original.

Henry: A 35-year-old balding man with a huge appetite for pizzas. He eats so many pizzas that a small pizza company made him the face of their enterprise. He received a large sum of cash, and all of a sudden, started getting attention from beautiful women everywhere. Henry has a secret he does not wish to share with anybody. Henry, in fact, was born female, and after a severe sex reassignment surgery, became Henry. He fears that one day somebody might discover his secret. He keeps to himself, even though it is not as easy as before. And so on…

Do you notice that the first Henry was completely flat? Even though the “second” Henry isn’t all too exciting you can add meat to the bones to create a deeper character profile. This is what you must do when casting both primary characters and secondary characters, even antagonists. You must create believable characters to whom your audience can relate.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to provide depth and originality to your characters.

1. Name

2. Age

3. Height

4. Eye Color

5. Physical appearance

6. Unique physical attributes, or strange physical attributes

7. Favorite clothing style

8. Where does he or she live, how is it where he or she lives

9. Defining gestures, or physical movements

10. Things the character does not like about him or herself

11. Language use and speaking style

12. Hobbies

13. Fondest Memory

14. Insecurities

15. Family

You can keep adding to the list–a character’s traits and mannerisms are endless. By casting a character you must actually create a human being.

A very useful book to read is “The Man That Never Was,” which will help you to define a character’s characteristics. This book is about a fake person whom the army created to fool the Nazi regime into believing this person is a high-ranking officer with crucial information about D-Day. Military intelligence created this fake person with having a family, feelings, and even his cause of death. The book is about 100 pages long, so it is a quick read. You can derive valuable information on character creation from this book.

Remember, a character is an extension of your personality, so make him or her human and believable to interest your viewing audience, otherwise your screenplay might have a date with a landfill.

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