How to Make a Character Quickly? Look for Love

A few thoughts on craft #21

There are many ways to come up with characters, but I’m about to share with you my favourite way.

What is the basis of a dramatic character? Most writers will say that the character is wanting and failing to get something, and then does something about it.

So, one shortcut for getting inspiration for an amazing character is to look through the love-wanted classifieds or websites.

Here you see the ways in which sometimes people’s wants don’t align with the ways they pursue them. Or the advertiser is very open about what they need.

Whatever they need, though, the ad reveals what they are finding difficult to get.

No time-wasters.

Good sense of humour.

Enjoy nights cuddling on the sofa.

You get the idea.

Once you find people with intriguing gaps between want, need and reality, you can start to speculate about changing the chief desire.

What if they want an apartment?

What if they want to move to another country?

What if they want other pedestrians to walk a bit faster everywhere, dammit?

What if they want their boss to fail?

How would they present that need and who would they approach?

If you don’t know how likely they’d be to succeed, that’s great. You can make it up.

An important qualifying comment: resist the temptation to smirk when going through others’ expressions of desire. Try to imagine the world of the person that helped drive the words in their love-wanted profile. That is, empathise.

Of course you can write a comedy involving people putting delusional things in a love-wanted ad, but one thing I’d prefer to see playwrights and screenwriters tackling is the kiss-up and kick-down mentality that infuses so much produced comedy.

That is, it can feel easier to ridicule and to laugh at people who have less power to control their lives, while we make noble characters out of successful people and figures of authority.

Great comedy going back to the days of Aristophanes up Chaplin comes out of doing it the other way around.

Kiss-down and kick-up instead.



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Top photo by George Coletrain on Unsplash

Kissing photo by George Coletrain on Unsplash