Monday, May 12, 2008

Meet the characters (you know and love)

One of the most challenging - and most exciting - things about writing original material is describing the characters. It's difficult, because you only get a few lines to create the image and personality of the people you want your readers to fall in love with. Plus, you have to walk that tightrope of how much background you get to give, and how deep you can go into things-that-can't-be-shot, the cardinal sin as decreed by all screenwriting teachers and books.

So I figured...why not learn from the best? I read the descriptions of my favorite characters from various pilots and thought I would share them. I hope you find them as inspiring as I did.

(And my girl-love of Veronica Mars is totally reaffirmed.)


We finally see the face of our heroine, VERONICA MARS. She is not cute. She is sexy. Tough. Prematurely jaded. Angelina Jolie at 17.


A FACE pressed against the glass. One of the most beautiful faces you’ve ever seen. But the first thing you notice is the soulfulness behind this girl’s gaze. Meet –



Pretty. But will never feel beautiful enough. The sink runs. She wipes saliva from her lips. Rinses with mouthwash. A ritual. Checks her SIDEKICK on the counter.

Her eyes narrow. She inhales sharply. A siren has just sounded in this girl’s soul. She exits into –

CHUCK BASS, 17. Future Senator or cautionary tale.

DAN, 17, will be fine when he gets to college. That is little consolation today. JENNY, 15, isn’t waiting for college. Wants to be popular now.


Pull back through the picture window to where KENNETH a bright and chirpy (Clay Aiken type) NBC page is giving a tour.

JACK DONAGHY, 45, handsome and impeccably dressed



Simultaneously handsome and awkward, about 30 years of age. Ned's lips are whistling but we don't hear a sound.

Ned runs his hand over the pine frame then lifts the lid, bathing the body of Charlotte Charles, aka CHUCK, in sunlight.

Only Prince Charming could know how the Pie-Maker felt upon looking at her. Even in death she's beautiful, a woman yet very much the little girl he once knew.

Great thought was taken as to where to touch her. The hand too impersonal, lips too forward, the cheek... the cheek. Ned's finger closes in on Chuck's alabaster cheek and CAMERA JUMPS TO AN EXTREME-EXTREME-EXTREME CLOSE UP of his slow caress. A CRACKLE OF ELECTRICITY between finger and cheek.


GREG HOUSE, also 38, brilliant but scarred, wields the truth like a sword – and isn’t afraid to cut you. He walks with a cane and pain (the latter he hides, the former he wishes he could). He speaks and thinks quickly – and doesn’t wait for others to catch up. Wilson is his best friend, his only friend – though you’d be hard pressed to describe even this relationship as friendly. As House pops a pill in his mouth (something he does frequently)…


Michael Bluth (mid 30s, type A personality)

Lucille Bluth, the matriarch of the family, also staring off the ship, with a slight furrow.


CAMERA REVEALS CARRIE. Early thirties. Heather Locklear gorgeous cursed with the brain of Dorothy Parker. She takes a drag from a Marlboro and exhales.

MIRANDA HOBBES, mid-thirties, tall, thin, pseudo-attractive, angrily picks her way through a salad bar.

A pretty, feminine woman, CHARLOTTE ROSS (32), is cataloguing pieces of art, as she talks.



KITTY MARCH. She is 30 today, beautiful, very appealing, politically right of center. She's the host of a radio show broadcast nationally on satellite.

BRYAN MARCH, 34, close-cropped hair, shockingly handsome but even more shockingly powerful. He is an Assistant US Attorney, but in his black power-suit he could just as easily be the head of CAA.

The hand belongs to JUSTIN MARCH. JUSTIN is thin, wiry, 27, intense, mercurial,
sharp, boyish, dangerous, innocent, and very guilty; part bad boy out of Salinger, and part Ordinary People. He sits on the edge of the bed - he hasn't slept.


brenderlin said...

That description of house may be the best character description I've ever seen.

the criti-phish said...

This is probably my fav post of any blog that I currently read :)

- Amanda