Character Exercise

Want to give two-dimensional characters an instant third dimension? Try this.

Make a list of characteristics, likes and dislikes for your character. Opposite that list, write opposing characteristics, likes and dislikes. Choose one of the items from the list of opposites and incorporate it into your character.

A number of years ago, I did this with a character named Allan in my play Flesh and Blood. Allan is a straight, rebellious, teenaged boy. He likes his drugs and he likes his unprotected sex. One would think that his musical tastes might tend towards the harder edges of rock and roll, but I made him a secret opera lover. It worked gangbusters. In the play, there’s a scene in which Allan and his girlfriend Sherri-Lee have just made love. Allan opens up to her and plays Montserrat Caballé’s recording of “Vissi d’arte” from Tosca for her. I was amazed by how well this simple exercise worked.

About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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