I’m taking a playwriting class at Freehold Theatre. It’s beginning play writing, and although I’m not a beginner, I’m learning a lot.
I’m writing a play for the class that I don’t think I ever would’ve thought of on my own.
How to find Characters
One of the first exercises we did for class was create characters. We did it in two ways.
1. Observe someone
Go to a public place, someplace you can watch people without looking creepy. Find someone to watch. Make notes about what the person is wearing and how the person is wearing it. Very detailed.
2. Remember someone
Think about someone who used to be important to you, someone you haven’t seen in a while. Write down everything you can remember about what that person wore and how the person wore it.
Then figure out who the character is
The way people dress, the clothes and jewelry etc., and how they wear what they wear, says a lot about people. As you think and feel about the person you observed, and the person you remember, you figure out who this person is.
Create a Relationship
Invent a relationship between these two characters. They could be related, old friends, new friends, coworkers, or practically strangers.
Then invent a brief history of their relationship. Create specific and concrete details about the events, places, and people they have in common.
Make the relationship between these two characters be essentially antagonistic, even if it’s friendly antagonism.
Give Them Something to Say
Now write a monologue for each character. Each character should describe the other character, and give his or her point of view about the relationship.
Have each character talk to someone who is sympathetic – but not completely sympathetic – to the character’s point of view. The character tries to persuade the listener to feel the same way he or she feels about both the other character and the relationship as a whole.
What Did I Find?
I have a 25-year-old female graduate student who is investigating a set of male runners, all in their 50s, whose running buddies all die mysteriously. All the runners were treated for bacterial meningitis when they were very young. Something about the treatment stays latent in their bodies until their 50s. Then the bacterial meningitis turns into pneumonic meningitis, which they unknowingly spread to their buddies when they’re running together.
The story has a definite X-Files feel to it. (Ya think?) The scene I wrote for tomorrow’s class shows that the Centers for Disease Control is involved. Conspiracy upon conspiracy!
And I started with two characters, and my own knowledge of people. And my imagination.
The Instructor is…
Rebecca Tourino. She has a blog: