If you're just finding this article series, you can find the full 30 Days of Developing Characters series here. I'm a character junkie. Hopefully, you'll find some of my tips on how I create my own characters helpful.
We're on Day 5 now, and this time, I want you to stop creating your characters. Yep. Just stop. It's time for research and inspiration.
What are your favorite movies? Chances are, those films became your favorites because you fell in love (or hate) with the characters in them.
DAY 5: Read Stories with Great Characters
Don't tell me you don't have time to read. You can read an entire screenplay in less than 2 hours. I bet you've surfed Facebook for that long, accomplishing nothing but falling down the rabbit hole of wasted energy.
I'm sure you all have favorite characters. See how their creators took them through the entire journey of the script, from introduction to story climax. What wounds did they have at the beginning? How did they evolve? How did they achieve their outer goal? Learn from the pros.
What's a "Great Screenplay"?
A great movie is one you can't stop thinking about long after you left the theater. The characters swirl in your mind for days, not just hours. Start by reading the scripts for the films you just have to watch whenever you're flipping channels.
Make a list of those "remote stopping" films you love. See if there's anything they have in common. Make a list of the characters that pull you in. What do they have in common? Are you writing the genre you love to watch? If not, why not?
Use this exercise to learn more than just about compelling characters, but also about your taste in movies and why you love the ones you do. Whatever those writers are doing to pull you in, you need to be learning how to do as well.
WGA has a list considered to be the 100 best screenplays, written. There are no hyperlinks to the scripts, but Googling the titles might get you access to them, or check the resources below. BUT the WGA does have a "Facts about the Film" link. It's always fun do learn what happened behind the scenes.
Awards Season Screenplays
Whenever the awards season hits, screenplays get distributed "for your consideration." When you see them available online, grab them because the links won't last forever. Follow accounts on Twitter that frequently post those screenplays, like @gointothestory, @scriptmag and @ScriptPipeline.
Recent Screenplays Plus Some Classics
I'm a sucker for the classics. If you're looking for oldies but goodies, and some new screenplays, too, check out these sites:
- Daily Script
- Drew's Script-o-Rama
- Indie Film Hustle has scripts listed by the screenwriters' names as "collections"
- Go into the Story's Scott Myers updates his list regularly
- Screenplays for You
- The Script Savant has both film and TV scripts
- Movie Scripts and Screenplays
- The Screenplay Database
- Simply Scripts
- IMDb (Internet Movie Database) isn't just for listing all the film projects produced, but they also have a database for scripts, called IMSDb.
- Reddit users love to share scripts with each other. Check out the Screenwriting SubReddit. Again, just like with Tracking Board, search first! Reddit users are brutal at slapping you down when you don't obey online etiquette.
Screenplays by Genre
TV Scripts and Series Bibles
Don't just binge watch shows on Netflix. Read the scripts, too. If you can get your hands on the series bibles, even better.
- BBC Writersroom
- Script Reader Pro, as stated above, SRP shares TV shows by genre.
- Shore Scripts has a fantastic bundle of series bibles.
- TV Writing has a stellar collection that they update regularly.
- TV Calling Script Library
Access to the scripts circulating around town isn't easy to get, but you can subscribe (for a fee) to Tracking Board Forum. But pay attention to the rules! Don't shout out an ISO (In Search Of) request without checking the library first. No one wants to be annoyed by writers too lazy to look for themselves. Their collection is gold, especially if you're serious about understanding industry trends. Worth every penny.
Search In Person
Sometimes you can find screenplays in local libraries. I live in the country, so they're definitely not in mine, but when I go to NYC or L.A., it's always fun to find put my hands on screenplays.
New York City has the NYU Library. I urge you to also dive into their classic literature, too.
- For those in Los Angeles, you have more options:
- Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
- Francis Howard Goldwyn Hollywood Regional Library
- Louis B. Mayer Library at AFI
- UCLA Library Special Collections
- USC’s Cinematic Arts Library
- Writers Guild Foundation Shavelson-Webb Library
Fitting that our list starts with the WGA and finishes with the WGA.
Another benefit of searching in person is for networking opportunities. Screenwriters are reading screenplays. Start up a conversation. If nothing else, being a library voyeur offers a chance to explore people's behavior. But that's a tip tease for another day...