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06/16/2001 - Characterization
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Teleplay Tips & Tricks

Characterization

In TV writing, the key to the success of a series is creating characters that the audience wants to come back and see again and again. Most writers-and network executives too-make the mistake of thinking this means that the characters have to be likeable. Hmm, is Andy Sippowitz likeable? Was Archie Bunker?

Many series leads aren't "people" we like at all, but they ARE sympathetic. They have attitudes that we may not agree with, but that we understand, and they are caught up in situations that give them the feeling of powerlessness that we all have at one time or another in life.

As soon as the audience identifies with these characters, it's hooked. The viewers have to come back every week in order to see how people they love and/or love to hate are coping with events that also cause us great anxiety and stress. So no matter what genre you're working in, remember to give your characters the same troubles the rest of us have. Then sit back and watch the "fun."

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