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How to Develop Other Characters

How to Develop Other Characters for a Screenplay

The "Other" Characters in Your Screenplay

After developing your main character for your story you have to start thinking about the other characters. Each supporting character must add or subtract something to or from the main character. In other words, each supporting character must either try to help or try to prevent the main character from succeeding in their quest.

In summary, each secondary character will be defined by their relationship to your hero's outer motivation. Therefore, when creating other primary characters in your screenplay, you will be in one of two situations:

1. Your Cast of Characters is Already Thought Out: In this case, the logic of the plot dictates certain character types. In such instances, your characters will function most effectively if you know the basic function each fills in relation to your hero.

2. You Know Your Hero, But Not Everyone Else: In this case, you know who your hero is, but have no idea who the other characters in the story will be. Here, you must create primary characters that will fulfill specific functions for your main character.

The Four Categories of a Primary Character

1. The Hero

This, of course, is the main character, whose outer motivation drives the plot forward. He or She is the primary object of identification for the reader and the audience, and who will be on the screen most of the time. As with all the other primary characters, the hero must possess some outer motivation and conflict, while an inner motivation and conflict may or may not be revealed.

2. The Antagonist

This is the character who stands in the way of the hero achieving his or her outer motivation. The antagonist can be a villain, a rival, or even a good guy, as long as the character tries to prevent the main character from achieving their goal. It is also important for the antagonist (or sometimes referred to as the nemesis) to be an individual and not a group or organization, like "The Nazi's" or "The CIA". Having a clear-cut, motivated individual who is trying everything to thwart the goals of the hero, makes for a very interesting and emotionally involving story. You want the audience to cheer for the hero.

Red Skull in Captain America was associated with The Nazi's and the leader of Hydra, but his uniqueness is apparent in the comics and of course, his depiction in The Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Captain America Villians

Captain America: Red Skull


3. Reflection

This is the character who supports the hero's outer motivation. The reflection can be a best friend, a co-worker, a sibling, a sidekick, a spouse, or any other character who adds support to the hero's objective.

Batman and Robin - The Sidekick

Robin: The Sidekick


4. Romance

This is the character who is the sexual or romantic object for the hero's outer motivation. When your hero's outer motivation includes as its objective winning the love or sexually conquering another character, then that other character is the romance. Also, a romance must always alternately support the hero's outer motivation. Bear in mind, if a hero falls in love with a romance character, the audience has to fall in love with that character as well!

Daryl Hannah in Splash

Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks in Splash


How to Develop a Main Character for Your Screenplay

The Three Act Structure For Your Screenplay

Check out our iOS app for developing an outline for your story, StoryO for iOS click here for more information or here for the desktop version.


StoryO for iOS

StoryO for iOS: Available on the App Store



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