Screenwriting Tip: The Character Pass

Here’s something I’ve started doing recently with my scripts. It may be something that everyone does, and I’ve been remiss in not doing so.

I call it The Character Pass.

I read my script through, focusing solely on one character. That way, you get a better sense of how they’re fitting into the structure of the piece, when they feel absent, and when they feel they have outstayed their welcome. Moreover, you can really dial in to their voice, and you quickly hear how their lines can be improved, reshaped, or trimmed.

By doing this yesterday, I greatly improved a character that had until then been feeling weak on the page.

This focus on one character plays into the idea that all characters think they are the hero of their own story. When you read that story from their perspective only, things fall into shape for them much more easily, and it’s quickly apparent if they have agency or not.

I shall be doing a character pass on everything, and for everyone, from now on.

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