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  • Writer's picturepgracemiles

No. 11 Charting Characters In My Play

It is five o'clock on a winter's morning in my home. Alongside the platform of my mind stands a train majestically full of a cast of 13 characters. Some of these passengers are war heroes and villains, there’s a brilliant woman and a wicked one, and two ethereal characters named Thunder and Lightning.

I typically write plays on a kind of instinct without an outline but when the full-length Restoration play I’m writing has 13 characters, at some point I need to get linear.  These individuals are very clear in my mind and mostly on the page but I wanted to take a deeper look at each one’s relationship with all of the other characters.

I created a chart with the character names listed both vertically and horizontally. With each relationship, I thought through what those characters wanted from each other, what obstacles were in their way, and what they stood to lose if they did not get what they wanted.  Sometimes I did not have those answers – which showed me the holes.

Then on the chart,  I made a brief note about that character’s relationship to the other:

“She makes me look good”

“There to back him up”

“In love”

“Haunted by her, even paranoid”

“Ready for a fight”

Then I went back and marked in red which relationships had the most potential for conflict and complication.

My next step is to write a one page draft of a scene or conversation of those more complex character relationships and see if those moments will work within the play structure.

All aboard. Including myself.

The train is leaving the station. Progress not perfection.

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