Everything about a character must serve a purpose, must be operable, must set up something that
will happen later in the story.
- Name Characters Carefully: A
dramatic script is essentially an engine for establishing and releasing dramatic potential. As
such, every opportunity must be exploited to this end, particularly naming, e.g., the title,
characters, places, etc. See Word Use
section for more on this.
- Describe Characters with Purpose Character traits must be consciously and deliberately
a part of the dramatic
potential that will be released in the story. If they do not serve this purpose, they're just
window dressing and ought to be eliminated. An angry character is angry because his inability to
control his temper leads to story complications, e.g., Sonny in The
Godfather (1972), or because the anger will be transformed into compassion and caring in the
course of the story, or because he will
encounter a meek person during the story who will teach him serenity, etc. He's not angry simply
because he's angry.
- Match Challenges to Weaknesses: If it is established that a character fears something
more than anything on Earth, we know the story will be about his coming face-to-face with this
fear and overcoming it during the story. Establishing such weaknesses early makes for strong
character development possibilities later in the story.
If you do this right you'll never lose your audience as they'll come to know that when you put
something in your story you intend to use it later.