With regards to characters, I’ve been doing several things. The two biggest are the cast mapping and the casting of the characters. Both have been challenging and quite revealing.
First, the cast map. There are plenty of resources online and in books to help you develop deep characters. But the characters must interact with other characters, and the attributes and values that the characters bring out in one another are just as important. This is something McKee teaches. In fact, earlier this week, my sister and I watched an older film – A Fish Called Wanda (1988) – so I could take a look at the sample cast map he provides on StoryLogue. As I put the two together, it made perfect sense. Once I drew out my own cast map – the circles, the attributes, how the characters relate. I found some potential problems. I found some holes in the map and relationships which might not be that interesting.
Second, casting the characters. This was amazing fun, but far harder than I expected. As I browsed through IMDB and entertainment sites, I found myself looking for people that had attribute requirements that I knew about in my mind but that I hadn’t written down, and probably didn’t expose anywhere, in the script. Where characters might have been missing depth on the page, they may have had it in my head, and I just didn’t translate it well. As I hunted down each actor, I noted the specific things that would rule OUT certain choices as well as rule IN. Once I found a match, I printed out a photo and taped it to a 5×7 index card and wrote all of the attributes that made them the perfect fit. Then, for each, I went through their parts of my story and captured key details. In some cases I discovered I had inconsistencies to address.
So far, I recommend these two activities. I think they are contributing to the richness of the story.