Sunday, 11 August 2013


At every event we have held, we have heard time and time again our guests say - regardless of the genre or platform - it's all about CHARACTER, CHARACTER, CHARACTER. 

Conflict, drama, comedy everything comes through the characterisation - not the setting or idea of what the film or series is about.  What makes a film or series stand out from the next is the characterisation. It is intrinsic to the quality of the narrative. Characters can be so compelling that they can compensate for a weak plot. Without characters there would be no story or plot - it is the characterisation that drives the plot. How similar are genres and films in theme and setting? What makes them different? It always comes back to the characters! 

Characters need a huge amount of thought and work. Biographies need to reveal different parts of the character’s appearance, personality and background about that character’s traits. Our May 2013 Guest Ben Stephenson described it as us needing to 'walk in the character's shoes'.

The biographies serve many purposes. They relate the central conflict of that character to the role they play within the plot, and in the case of Rocliffe assist with casting our events and help the cast know more about their role. 

Here are some pointers when preparing your submission materials.

Our Ten Rocliffe Tips:
  1. Write no more than 100 words per character - don't just give us a one liner. 
  2. Only give biographies of the relevant characters in the extract. 
  3. Give your character a name. Avoid giving them all similar sounding names or names beginning with the same letter. Is there a reason why Nick, Nancy, Nathan and Nemonie all have to begin with N?  Use names that reflect their personalities.
  4. State their exact age - not 20s/30s. There is a huge difference between someone who is 22 and 28! 
  5. Allow their personality, flaws, physicality to come through if relevant to the plot. You can make your characters more interesting by providing a deeper exploration of their personalities, in particular their wants and needs. Show what they feel about things, what kind of opinions they have about the world. 
  6. Include character arcs to demonstrate how each evolves throughout the series or course of the feature film.  
  7. How do the characters relate to each other? You need to show who everyone is and how individually they will connect or conflict with other characters. 
  8. Do bring in their backstory if it is relevant to the extract and treatment but ultimately helps to sell your story.
  9. Don't use pictures and wish lists of cast at entry stage.
  10. If you are writing a comedy then use your comedic writing skills with the descriptions. 
My writing quote of the week:
I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose - Stephen King

Keep writing!