The Online Resource for Screenwriting

Screenplay Character Development

Writing the characters for your story follows the less is more principle. You write your characters with only enough information to work in your plot. You want to create a simple framework upon which your dialog, the story, the director, and the actors will built on. The great thing about screenwriting is that you don't have to write pages and pages of psychological character development for your story to work. The dialog that you write for a character, and the story line that the character is in will dictate most of the characters personnel information.  Remember, you have to leave room for the actors and actresses to bring something to the movie. Simply make a list of how many characters you will need, and a little description of what each character is about. Listed below is a small list of what each character may need, and some simple guidelines:

NAMES- Obvious? But a characters name can say worlds about your character (Does the name PLAYER say something about your character?).

NUMBERS- How many characters do you need?


*Political views
*Marital status
*Social status


*Men or Female
*Physical Build
*Defects (scars, or limps)



All of the above items could make up your characters identity, but your initial description of your character in your screenplay might just be: YOUNG BLACK FEMALE, or OLDER BLACK MAN. Strange? In screenwriting a picture is indeed worth a thousand words- a thousand words that you don't have, because of the limitation time. You show the characteristics of your characters by their interaction with the other characters, and the story.    

We have been able to find only one harden rule when it comes to writing characters: DO NOT USE STEREOTYPES. We find this rule to be quite interesting, because if you look at the history of Black characters in Hollywood movies a majority of them have tended to be stereotypical. Try not to write stereotypical characters unless you are doing it for an effect, like contrasting characters in a scene.



Screenplay Characters