How to Write a Character Analysis for Writers & Actors!

deathsalesI sat down with some actors the other day and they asked, ‘how do I write a character analysis?  And as I answered them I thought how much this applies to writers as well.  If you don’t know your characters (in your story,novel) your readers will never get to know them.

After many years of writing, my characters show up in my head but it’s my job to ‘flesh them out’. Many times I will meet or see a character in real life and they inspire a character for my writing.  But, it’s still the writer’s or the actor’s job to give them a story and breathe life into them.

If you’re a new writer take the time to write it down, using some of the tools listed here.  If you’re an actor, it is imperative that you write your character analysis.  It not the same as a few random thoughts about your character.  Some intangible thing happens when you put pen to paper and get to know who your character is.

1.  Let’s say that your character’s story (or in the script) is ‘H’ through ‘M’.  Write/Create their story, ‘A’ through ‘G’  (back story) and ‘N’ through ‘Z’.  (what happens to them after they leave your story/script).  Now you have created their entire life story.  It will make your character so much richer.writer

2. One tool I used as a director and is another great exercise for the actor (or writer):  As your character, write down and describe your bedroom in great detail. What kind of bedroom would your character have? What color are the walls? What’s on the bed? What’s hanging on the walls? What part of the house/apt is your bedroom in? What’s in the closet? Is your character neat or messy? Now read it back to yourself. It should tell you much about who your character is.

stgreetcar3. Actors:  Read through the script and write down EVERYTHING the other characters say about your character, including what you say about yourself. This will tell you a lot about your character.

4. Writers:  These exercises do not have to show up in your book.  They are merely ways to research and explore who your characters are.

5. Actors:  If your part is a walk on with three lines, you should still do the work‘there is no small part….’

6. Explore  your character’s motivations, goals, needs.

As I write this post I realize that there was more ‘flesh’ I could put on the bones of my current killer in my mystery char.analysisseries.  See?  It works! Just writing about character analysis helped me to develop a character.

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