MAKE YOUR CHARACTERS LIKEABLE

Characters in a story do not have to be good or even likeable. They can be ruthless villains (like Al Pacino in Scarface), serial killers (like Michael C. Hall in Dexter), and blood thirsty vampires (like Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire), yet audiences will still root for them.

There are twelve ways to craft characters that audiences will care about and whether you use only one device or a combination of several, should depend on the story and plot they serve.

1) Characters who are likeable: This is perhaps the easiest character to make, because nice guys are easy to like. In The Big Hit, Mark Wahlberg’s character is a hit man, but one who is courteous and kind. He is being taken advantage of by his girlfriend, as well as by the other members of his hit squad. Despite his line of work, we are charmed by his character, and find ourselves on his side.

2) Characters who deeply love another: No matter how obnoxious a character is, if they openly love another in the movie, then we feel that it exonerates them in some way. In Face/Off, Nicholas cage plays a villain who deeply loves his son and girlfriend. By contrast, the good guy who’s played by John Travolta is cold and detached. We find that despite Cage’s role, he comes off as more human, and therefore, someone we can relate to more.

3) Characters we can relate to: There are two ways to make characters relatable to an audience. The first is to make them ordinary people whose lives are similar to the vast majority of us: there is nothing remarkable about them, and they simply get by as best they can.

The second is to put them in situations we’ve all been through: an applicant who is struggling to find a job (like Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich); the unpopular plain Jane who has a crush on the school Jock (Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles); the divorced couple suing for custody of their child (Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep in Kramer vs. Kramer).

When an audience can relate to the situation, they

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