What Your Characters Need to Captivate The Audience.
This is an interesting topic and is not an easy one to put your finger on. Firstly you must have a good story to tell and the characters must be interesting. I always give my characters an identity and by that I mean, in my mind they are not just characters in a screenplay, but they need to be real.
When I say they need to be real I mean they have to have an essence about their whole being and be individual, each one of them. The audience must be able to relate to the characters in your script. As a screen writer it is your responsibility, if you are looking at getting your script produced as a film and I’m sure most of you reading this are, then your characters must have real personalities. This includes the way they walk, the way they talk and the way they handle situations with dialogue and motion.
It’s imperative that your character has a first name, last name and has a certain look about them, even to the point of colour of their hair eyes the sort of proportions of the body which generally tells of a lifestyle. Also the way they interact with the other characters in your script. In the screenplay the dialogue will be under their first name generally speaking. But this doesn’t matter as the characters personality builds an image in your mind as a script writer Online. If you are looking to get a screenwriting app where you can add these details then you can go no further than www.SPSCloud.io. It has a character breakdown section.
Whether your script is based on a true story or is pure fantasy the rules are the same. Your characters must be dynamic, empathetic, violent, aggressive, passive, loving, disruptive, passionate and real. That’s not to say of course that all your characters in the script have all of these emotions, but they do need to have emotions, as we all have some of these traits in us. Some of your characters may have three or four these traits and some maybe one or two but as in real life nothing always travels smoothly and therefore emotions are tested on many levels.
I also make sure as a screen writer that my characters, have some sort of profession, education, living arrangements and hobbies. This may or may not be in your script but it helps flush out the character, the enjoyment they get out of life, what work they have to do to pay the bills, and this lifestyle helps to tap into their emotions. So it is very important to understand your character before you start putting words into their mouth. The audience will pick up on this because these characters in your story will be able to relate to the viewers.
It’s very similar to songs that makes you feel because it stirs an emotion in you because you have either been through a similar situation, or a friend or family member has gone through this same situation, and the lyrics in the song relate to the past or present situation. Whereas a song has only one plot, a screenplay has also one plot, and a few subplots.
Your characters and their dialogue must shine. Each character needs to be completely different, maybe have a different accent, maybe walk different or they spend more time thinking about what to say. You see as a screenwriter what you write in your screenplay is interpreted by the actors and therefore the actors and the storyline affects the audience. So when writing your story and transferring it into a script remember that what you are writing will be seen on the big screen or on the small screen or on social media. And the success of the film depends on the storyline, characters and their dialogue.
If a film is produced with a bad script and good actors it will always be a bad film. On the other hand if a film is produced with a good script and average actors then there is a chance that it will be a good film. I guess you noted that I didn’t say good script and bad actors. That’s because this has no chance of becoming a good film. The other thing as a screenwriter you should be aware of is that if your characters and dialogue are believable then you are more likely to get good actors that want to be a part of this film, and that leads to funding made easier for the producers, and that leads to the film being released and you getting paid.
Keep things real
The title of this blog is “what your characters need to captivate the audience”. So to summarise! Your characters and dialogue needs to be real and all slightly different. The dialogue has to reflect their personalities and not just words on a page. If you have a good story, great characters with good dialogue, you will acquire good actors, a producer who wants to make your film so that your script will have an audience. That’s how you captivate the audience, by screening the film.
Remember film is a visual medium so some of the quietest moments in film become the best. Sometimes your characters don’t have to say anything, they just need to feel the moment, and your audience will also feel that moment.
Author David M. Raynor
Multi international award-winning Writer, Director, Producer.