One person who needs little introduction at the London Screenwriters’ Festival is Christopher Vogler, author and story consultant known around the globe for his expertise on The Hero’s Journey.
Among the detailed advice he had to give us today about creating fresh and dynamic characters from ancient mythological archetypes, Christopher shared his top tips for making a character introduction for the first time.
Making a character introduction is like when an actor walks out onto a stage, what actor doesn’t like to make a dynamic entrance. Left to their own devices your character will be like an actor without direction and swagger in making the most of their moment.
BUT WHAT SORT OF CHARACTER ARE THEY?
Strong impressions are good if that’s who your character is but what if strength and dynamism are not really their thing? How we first see a character can set up expectations that can engage or disengage us from the character and story later on.
USE THEIR SCHTICK TO SHOW US WHO THEY REALLY ARE.
All characters (all people) have their method of dealing with life. Their tricks, their traits, their coping mechanisms. Maybe they mumble when they’re shy or always try to please. Characters will have a set of behaviours that they repeat as they go through their life experiences. That’s known as their schtick (an old Vaudevillan term) and that”s what you can use to show us who they are the minute we meet them on screen.
And with a whole ream of ways we can shift our characters journey it’s only right that we should take some care in knowing who they are in the first place and being able to identify with them. For me, in what was a complex session, putting the characters best foot forward seems like a great place for writers to begin.