Video Essay: How To Create A Great Character

Creative Commons image Strength by s1rens at Flickr

Overview

After watching this video essay I learned how to create a great character.

What Is A Great Character?

It has been said that a great character must be likable for it to be great, which is not entirely true. For example, Darth Vader isn’t a completely likable character, yet it’s impossible not be absorbed in his story. Ultimately, this is because for a character to be great it has to be interesting and engaging.

Why Are Great Characters Important?

If a story were to not have a great character it could topple the structure, making it a bland and weak story with no “umph”. A story doesn’t just rely on the characters though, and there are many things that play a role such as plot, setting, conflict and resolution, etc. It’s almost like a car; each and every part of a car is valid and important, and without one the car could crash and burn.

How Do You Create A Great Character?

The best way to make a strong character is to ask yourself how can I make this character interesting. An interesting character is usually based on these three elements:

  • Likability: How much will the audience like this character?
    • Could you hold a decent conversation with the character?
  • Competency: How good are they at what they do?
  • Activity: How much do they persevere?
    • Do they affect the plot or does the plot affect them?

Make sure your character is good in at least one of these fields, but not good at all three. If your character is good at all three it becomes¬†too¬†perfect. If there is a character who isn’t strong in one of those fields, it gives them flaws which adds some depth to the character’s story. But you have to be careful not to add too many flaws. Like the three bears, there is an area between too many flaws and not enough that is just right to make a great character.

Some examples of characters that follow this structure are:

  • Bilbo Baggins: Incredibly likable, kind of competent, kind of active
  • Batman: Incredibly active, incredibly competent, not super likable
  • Sherlock Holmes: Incredibly active, incredibly competent, not super likable
  • Superman: Incredibly likable, incredibly competent, incredibly active
    • “The perfect character”

 

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