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  1. Youngy
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    Youngy New Member

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    Character Descriptions in Scripts

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Youngy, Apr 3, 2010.

    Well, I am not sure that this is the right place to post this question, however, I wanted to make sure that I would get an answer so I apologise if this is the wrong place.

    My question regards describing characters in scripts. I am about to embark on my first screenplay and I am wondering whether I need to write about my character's physical traits, hair colour, height for example, or does this just get left to the actors that the parts are cast to?
    Also, I was wondering because of political correctness would I be allowed to describe a character as 'black'? I am new to writing so I am not all aware on the rules regarding this.

    Thank you for any help you can give :)
     
  2. kinetica
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    kinetica Member

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    In the plays/scripts I've read, they usually describe the cast at the start. For example:

    Character 1: [Description here]

    Also, I personally (as a reader) wouldn't care if you used "black", but that is just me.
     
  3. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    as far as I'm aware, comparatively little description is given for characters when writing a script - play or otherwise. Basic background information is given, but other than that it's usually left up to the casting director, costume designer, producer and so on.

    Writers get little say in the matter but it's only appearances, so don't obsess over it. You're writing characters, not cardboard cutouts.
     
  4. CalliopeCalls
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    CalliopeCalls New Member

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    This last poster's comment is correct - usually, authors writing a play or screen play do not include descriptions of physical attributes, unless those physical attributes are directly related to the plot - for example, a crippling injury, an important scar, extraordinary height, etc. Every writer has an idea of what their characters look like, but the job of the writer is to write - it is other people's responsibility to apply visuals to the written text. You'll have to trust that your characters' personalities will be strong enough to imply what sort of appearance they should have, and that a casting director would follow through satisfactorily.

    So I would shy away from a thorough description and opt only for the details that recur in the text in dynamic ways.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    stage plays are not the same as screenplays, kinetica...

    in a screenplay, all but plot-related details are to be left up to the director, casting director, and costume dept.... and that includes race... unless it's vital to the plot, it shouldn't be specified...

    i mentor many aspiring screenwriters, so email me if you want any help, or for tips from the pros on all aspects of the craft that i can forward to you...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  6. boesjwoelie
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    boesjwoelie Member

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    I'm not an expert on screenplays (in fact, I know next to nothing about it :)) but I do want to say this: whether or not you include such things, doesn't mean it can't be useful to write it anyway, just as a reminder for yourself :p

    And: if the character is black, he's black, right? :D
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not unless it is important to the story. Normally, it's a choice left to the casting director.

    Suppose the director decides the story is more relevant if she casts the character as an Iranian in Detroit?

    That's the thing about scripts. You are, in essence, collaborating with a director you have never met, and probably never will. Perhaps several directors, each with his or her own interpretation of your work.

    It's a collaboration you should encourage.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    and, even if you're convinced the character can only be black, for some reason or another, that doesn't mean the director won't see it differently... so, i repeat, do NOT specify race unless there's no way the plot can work any other way... and then be prepared to see it changed, anyhow...
     
  9. boesjwoelie
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    boesjwoelie Member

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    alright then, I stand corrected :)
     

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