Putting Lifelike Characters on Stage

Part of the Playwriting For Dummies Cheat Sheet

The characters in your play must be fully developed, as close to real people as you can make them. The keys to creating believable characters are details and specificity. If you know your characters as well as you know your best friends, you’re more likely to know what they will do under the circumstances of your play.

So write mini-biographies of all your characters. The time you invest in doing this will pay off later. Here are some of the things you should know about all of your characters and why:

  • Gender: Men and women react to life’s events in very different ways.

  • Parents: Parents, even absent ones, have a profound influence on their kids.

  • Siblings: Relationships later in life can be influenced by experiences with siblings.

  • Schooling: Education, or the lack of it, can influence a person’s daily life.

  • Work: People often measure themselves by their work and earnings.

  • Relationships: People who are married or in committed relationships usually behave and think differently than single folks.

  • Religion: People’s choices and behaviors can be powerfully influenced by religion.

  • Race/ethnicity: People of different backgrounds make different choices in similar situations.

  • Politics: Political beliefs can strongly affect what that person chooses to do.

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