An excerpt from my script review for Lost City of Z which will be available 04/24/17:
3.) Quality of Characters
Your hero needs it.
Why does Percy want to go back to the jungle? Because shards of pottery equal cities of gold?
Um…we’ll need more than that, especially when he seems like a “family man” but throws years at a time away on these expeditions.
There were bits and pieces sprinkled in here and there, but it felt more like “seeing what sticks” than clever subtlety.
And character intros.
Right on page 1 we’re introduced to PERCY HARRISON FAWCETT, followed by an elaborate paragraph stating what’s “behind his eyes” or “the danger lurking beneath”.
Use this kind of flowery shit in a novel, but when screenwriting, you get extra points for how succinct you are at conveying an image.
PERCY FAWCETT (30s), handsome and cheerful, but the type of officer who won’t hesitate to leave you behind for the good of the group or his mission.
24 words here vs. 63 in the script, and our example delivers a clearer message on who he is with a bit of foreshadowing about what’s to come.
Anything NOT captured in the second example should come out naturally via your story, especially how he interacts with various characters.
By typing a whole paragraph about your character you’re either cheating yourself and your reader, suggesting you won’t properly explore that character later, or doing twice the work if you DO develop everything correctly.
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