Wednesday, April 10, 2013
From the WRITING-CHARACTER-DESCRIPTIONS DEPT.
Most screenplays I read have the most awful character descriptions. They’re either something like “MOLLY - a blue-eyed blonde, attired in jeans and a light woolen jumper with red shoes and a sunhat”, or “FRED (mid-40s) an insurance-selling husband and father, slightly overweight but kind and bookish who still retains a youthful glow and an interest in living”. This sort of stuff is insipid. Don’t indulge in it! It tells the reader absolutely nothing of any dramatic import about the character. When writing brief, character descriptions it is better to focus of some aspect of the character that makes them unique, that captures an essence that makes the character THIS character. Look for a significant peculiarity or attitude that separates them from the mob, and grants the reader of the screenplay access to their inner life, as Kasdan does in Body Heat when he describes the Mickey Rourke character: “TEDDY LAURSEN, rock’n roll arsonist” or Flannery O’Connor, who described one of her characters as “the sort of woman that looked at nice young men as if she could smell their stupidity.”