One element I find key while reading a script is a good character description. I noticed that in every strong script I’ve read, the mains characters were always introduced with some elements that would give them life and help the reader get them.
Yesterday I was reading the first act of a friend’s new feature film. I didn’t know anything about his project so I was really placed in an ideal objective position and I realized that another reason why characters description is essentials is because they let the reader know who are the characters that will matter in the story.
If you’ve tried to write a script before, you’ve probably realized that it is not that easy to write a character description. You have a line or two to build a character without falling into clichés. The aspects you’ll decide to focus on will influence the way we imagine your character.
Sounds like i’m saying it’s the hardest thing in the world. (Ha. No I’m not, I just wanted to link to another article that you should check* if you’re interested in screenwriting.)
SO, I’ve decided to share here the characters descriptions of some of the strongest scripts I’ve read. These examples don’t cover at all the spectrum of characters description, but it’s a start, and 5 of them are coming from produced movies, so it will hopefully help you visualize, compare and all that jazz.
But before we start, a disclaimer from my friend the empty wallet: These extracts are from feature-length screenplays I have NOT written (unfortunately) and are used to illustrate an educational point (because education is important people). BUT, if it prevents anyone from making millions, please consider letting me know (instead of suing me) and I will gladly take them down. We’re in this together (kind of, but not really)
In no particular order:
The main character is introduced from the very first scene:
The second main character arrives a bit later:
This is from Crazy, Stupid, Love by Dan Fogelman.
Again, two of the main characters are introduced in the first scene.
This is from Elysium, the not-yet-released second feature from writer-director Neill Blomkamp, to whom we owe District 9.
This is from Hanna by Seth Lochhead, I really liked the script and really disliked the movie, which broke my heart.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (book’s author)
Introduction of the main character:
And another main character.
And that’s it for now!
Let me know if you find it useful, if so I might do more of those.
*It’s a video so you can’t really read it.