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Variety’s new series, “Hollywood How-To,” will tackle all things writing, with broader conversations about everything from crafting characters to navigating the writer’s room. The second chapter — “Developing a Character” — targets creating or adapting a character for your script. 


“Character, character, character!”

Watchmen” showrunner Damon Lindelof thinks if you repeat the word three times, “we can express exactly how important it is” to a great script. “It’s really the whole ball of wax,” he says.

So how does one invent interesting and layered characters? Variety quizzed Hollywood creators, including Susannah Grant (“Unbelievable”), Janet Mock (“Pose”), Lindelof (“Watchmen”), Robin Thede (“A Black Lady Sketch Show”), Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (“Someone Great”) and Sarah Kucserka (“High Fidelity”) in hopes of learning their tricks to constructing complex creatures.

“When it comes to describing a character, I always think of the question, ‘How will we know?'” explains “Erin Brockovich” and “Ever After” screenwriter Grant. “You’ll see a character description that describes them as warm and friendly but I’m always asking, ‘How are we going to know that?’… I always think about Callie Khouri’s introduction in ‘Thelma & Louise.’ The first time you see Geena Davis’ character, she opens up the refrigerator, takes a bite of candy bar, and sticks it back in and closes the refrigerator. This is a woman who hasn’t allowed herself as much pleasure as she could have in life. It was such a smart way of showing that.” 

Watch more “Hollywood How-To” videos on how to write a script here.