7 Ways to Craft a Compelling Character

Having a compelling character is crucial to the success of a film or TV show. It is what draws audiences in and keeps them engaged. A great character can evoke emotions, inspire empathy, and create a deep connection between the viewer and the story being told. A memrobale character adds depth and complexity to the plot, driving it forward and making it more interesting.

When audiences care about the characters, they become invested in the story and are more likely to stick with it until the end. Ultimately, a great character can make all the difference between a forgettable film or TV show and a truly unforgettable one.

The question is – how do we do that?

Here are 7 ways to make sure your character is a memorable one.

#1: Give Your Character a Backstory.

A character’s backstory can add depth and complexity to their personality. It helps the audience understand why the character behaves the way they do. Backstories can be revealed through dialogue, flashbacks, or actions.

Arthur Fleck in the movie “
Joker,” is a great example of this. He has a traumatic childhood, suffers from mental illness, and is mistreated by society. These experiences shape his personality and ultimately lead him to become the Joker.


#2: Make Your Character Flawed.

Flaws make characters more relatable and human. No one is perfect, and flaws can add conflict and tension to the story. It’s important to give your character flaws that are believable and relevant to the story.

In the TV show “Breaking Bad,” the main character, Walter White, is a high school chemistry teacher who becomes a methamphetamine manufacturer.
He is brilliant but also prideful, greedy, and has a big ego. These flaws ultimately lead to his downfall.


#3: Create Unique and Specific Traits.

Unique and specific traits can make a character stand out and be more memorable. These can be physical, emotional, or behavioural.

In the movie “Forrest Gump,” the main character, Forrest, has a distinctive way of speaking, a childlike innocence, and a talent for running. These traits make him a lovable and unforgettable character.



#4: Show, Don’t Tell.

In movies (and in novels) characters are what they DO. That is why it’s important to show who the character is through actions and behaviour rather than telling them through exposition.

We know Cersei Lannister in “Game of Thrones” is a manipulative, cunning, and power-hungry character through her actions and dialogue.

In one scene, she convinces Joffrey to execute the Stark household’s former maid, despite the fact that the girl had no part in the Stark family’s rebellion. Cersei uses Joffrey’s thirst for power and his cruelty to achieve her own goals. 

#5 – Give Your Character Goals and Motivations.

A character’s goals and motivations drive the story and make the audience care about their journey. It’s important to give your character both short-term and long-term goals that are specific and achievable.

In the movie “The Shawshank Redemption,” the main character, Andy Dufresne, has the goal of escaping from prison and clearing his name. This goal drives the story and creates tension and conflict.


#6: Make Your Character Relatable.

As a writer, you want your audience to CARE about your character otherwise they stop reading or watching. Making your character relatable can help the audience connect with them emotionally. This can be done by giving your character traits or experiences that the audience can relate to. 

In the TV show “Stranger Things” the character Joyce Byers is a single mother who will do anything to protect her son. This is a relatable experience for many parents, which makes her character more compelling.

#7: Create a Character Arc.

A character arc is the journey that a character goes through throughout the story. Though not all types of character arc have to CHANGE through a story, they still need to have an arc and a journey.
This can be done by putting your character in situations that challenge their beliefs or values.

A great example is in the movie “Captain Marvel”. She starts off as a soldier name Vers who is loyal to a cause she believes in but ultimately discovers her own agency and decides to fight for what is right. Her transformation from Vers to Carol Danvers and ultimately to Captain Marvel is a powerful depiction of how one can overcome their limitations and become the best version of themselves.

In conclusion – building a believable character in scripts takes time and effort. By giving your character a backstory, making them flawed, creating unique traits, showing rather than telling, giving them goals and motivations, making them relatable, and creating a character arc, you can create a character that is memorable and resonates with the audience. 

Now it’s YOUR turn – Who are some of your favourite film (or TV) characters? What makes them so compelling?

Would love to get your input in the comment box below.

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