Intriguing Characters

I enjoyed the conversation between Jenji Kohan (Weeds, Orange is the New Black) and Callie Khouri (Thelma & Louise, Nashville) on the “Heroine’s Journey” panel at the Austin Film Festival.

Though known for their strong female characters, both writers said that they seek to create interesting characters of both genders. And to illustrate how deeply flawed humans are, by including both good and bad attributes. Characters are not likeable in every moment. Heroes are made; they don’t start out heroic. They must journey to get to where they need to be.

In Orange is the New Black, it was the imposed mixing of characters of all stripes behind prison walls that initially intrigued Kohan. The backstory scenes in the show give us a glimpse behind the mask the characters wear in prison. And the humor found even within the drama reflects real life. Khouri was drawn to the specificity of Nashville.

Other tips for writing intriguing characters? Delve into the character. Listen to what they have to say. Know the lies they are telling themselves. Write a human being.


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