Helping you to connect with the writer within
If your story was a movie, what actors would play the roles of your characters?
I do not mean that you must copy a character straight out of a movie and describe them in your story to a T, but thinking about what actors would play your characters helps you to define mannerisms, body language and dialogue because you’re seeing them in action. Knowing these details for your characters means that whatever scenario you put them in, you’ll know exactly how they’ll react, what they’ll say and how they’ll feel.
One of the best Antagonists/Villains I’ve ever seen on screen is SS Colonel, Hans Landa played by Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds – could this role have been casted any better? I think not. His performance blew me away so much that , I forgot that Brad Pitt was actually supposed to be the star of the film (well at least on the promotional material). So what is an Antagonist? This is the character in the story who antagonises, of course – someone who creates hostility. He/She challenges the other characters and blocks them from achieving their goals. They don’t have to be evil, but this character doesn’t want the Protagonist/main character(s) to succeed in their endeavors. An SS Colonel in Nazi occupation, just happens to be a very complex and dark character to work with!
Now what would you do if an SS Colonel addressed you during Nazi occupation in France?!
The tension and intimidation that Christoph Waltz created in every scene had me convinced that if I ever met him, I’d soil myself. But the extra conviction that he brought to the role were his mannerisms: his disconcerting smiles and formal pleasantries while speaking to the other characters stiffens them in his presence; even in his smiles and polite greetings, the cruelty remains as a spark in his eyes. If you haven’t seen Inglorious Basterds, watch it! It’s a brilliant film, if only just for the character of Hans Landa.
If you have favourite characters in films, study the way they deliver their lines and notice why they say what they do. If you’ve used an actor to base a character on physically, then study them visually to explore their body language and their features.
This is a great technique for character development if this is something that you particularly get stuck with when you write.