Thursday, February 21, 2013

Low Budget Screenplay, Characters and Dimensions

Low Budget Screenplay, Characters and Dimensions

The problem with most screenplays begin before we get to whether or not the plot is sound. The problems begin at the level of characterization.

You have heard about three dimensional characters. In an effort to produce such a character you go out and write a character with a series of traits and skills that you hope will add depth to your character. This never works. This is not how a three dimensional character is created.

Look at dimensions as layers. Try to create a character when writing your screenplay that has layers.

Ask yourself a question about the lead character.

Who do they say that they are?

If they say I am a good person who loves my family, my dog, my friends and the whole wide world. Or the reverse I am a good person, but I can not stand my family, my dog, my so called friends or this crazy world I live in.

That is fine to start of with, but if that is your character from page one to page one hundred and one you have created a boring one dimensional character.

Here is a quick glimpse at a villain who is definitely not one dimensional.

Go beyond this to the next layer.

Who is this person underneath?

I love my family, but I need to spend hours away from them one a fishing trip or at work just to get away from them. I love the world, but I do not care about everything that happens to it, on it or inside it. I love my friends, but I am tired of dealing with their problems, their drama or even their upbeat attitude.

Or I hate the world, but there is one person that would make me fight to save it. It could be a child. It could be a love. It could be someone that they know, but has never said anything to. Shyness in a character or self doubt is a great second dimension. There are any number of character traits that can add dimension to a character in your low budget script.

To review. What a character says they are or even what other characters say about the lead character and who or what they actually say or do in reality adds a second dimension.

The third dimension is more tricky.

Here is a character that is fully three dimensional.

It could be something that the character discovers about themselves. Something good or bad that they never knew was there. A hero finds out that he is a coward when the going gets really tough. A person who has never stuck his neck out for anyone finds that he is willing to risk his life for a stranger. It is what the character does not know that adds that extra. It surprises both the character and more importantly the audience.

Writing a low budget screenplay requires that you pay more attention to characterization. Big budget films can and do get away with paper thin characters. They can hide this behind massive special effect and stars. The success of your low budget screenplay will depend on how well it is written. On how strong your characters are. Get to know these characters. You will over time discover things about them as they discover things about themselves. I am not going to lie to you and tell you that it is easier to write fully realized characters. It is harder, but is is also more rewarding.

Good luck with the screenplay. Please take a moment to bookmark this post and to share it.
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