Screenwriting Advice From The Past: Character On The Screen [Part 3]

August 12th, 2012 by

If you are a screenwriter, you should know about Anita Loos. Loos was one of the most influential writers in the early stages of American cinema, associated with 136 film projects per IMDB.

Married to writer John Emerson, the pair wrote one of the first books on screenwriting in 1920: “How to Write Photoplays”. I have been running a weekly series based on the book. You can access those posts here. Today we look at “Character On The Screen” [P. 65]:

A good method is to introduce important characters with some characteristic incident–the miser stoops to pick up a penny, the bully kicks a street urchin, and so forth.

This is the same principle I advance in my 1-week class Character Introductions: One of the best ways to introduction a character is through action. This can not only help a reader distinguish that character from others, it can also convey something of their persona.

Next week, more screenwriting advice from 90 years ago.

If you live in the U.S., you can read “How to Write Photoplays” via Google books online here.

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