Posts Tagged ‘characters’

Do you favor one character over another?

I’m a fan of the TV show Arrow and it struck me that the writers favor some of their characters over the others. It’s just a guess, of course, based on the writing. Here’s two examples from the show:

1. Felicity vs. Laurel – Felicity has all the funny lines & she’s computer brilliant. Laurel is a whiner, but comes from comic book canon.

2. Diggle vs. Roy – Diggle is a new Arrow character just created for the show. Roy is based on the comic book series and should turn into the Arrow’s sidekick.

From a certain standpoint, I can see why Felicity and Diggle are stronger characters and attract an adoring audience. Their status on the TV show is fresh and new. Laurel and Roy are weighed down by a ton of comic book history. It really feels like the writers haven’t found their groove yet, for these characters. Not that they aren’t trying. Each have had some good screen moments. And the actors are likable, but somewhere between the writing and the acting, it just doesn’t work all the time.

It got me thinking about my characters and if I have the same problem. Of course, I can’t blame comic book canon. Sadly. It’s all on me. I have noticed, however, that some characters come organically out of the storyline and others are a necessity. For example, if I need a police officer in a scene. He has to be there and he has to interact with my main characters. He might even need to be in several scenes.

I’ve started to look at those ‘bit players’ in my manuscripts and screenplays. And I see an area for improvement.

Here’s how I’m going to solve the problem: I’m going to find one interesting character trait and combine it with a unique action.

In the example above, my police officer could be a know-it-all and he texts the main character with suggestions. Depending on how I position the police officer in the plot — as a comic relief, mis-direction or helpful character — the texts can serve multiple story points.

I know we want to get the most out of every character in our stories. I hope you do so with yours!


Anyone that’s a fan of the CW’s television show “Arrow” has probably heard the term “Olicity”. It’s a fan-created way to talk about characters Oliver Queen (the Arrow) and Felicity Smoak (his smart assistant) hooking up as a couple at some point in the storyline. If you are hearing the term for the first time, please Google it and get caught up on the landslide of fan videos and commentary.

As a writer, Olicity is a wonderful example of actors bringing something extra to their characters and fans demanding more. I’d like to explore the pluses and the minuses of Olicity, including what a pickle the writer’s have created for themselves. (I apologize in advance if I offer suggestions about how to write the characters going forward, as I have every faith that Arrow’s writers and producers will do them justice.)

The first problem: The Arrow writers had a necessary, but boring scene to write. Main character Oliver needed tech help. They were facing a talking scene that could require a bunch of jargon.

The first solution: Write an interesting IT character.

The second problem: The interesting IT character (Felicity Smoak) was so interesting, she brought out a lighter side in Oliver. This was in part due to the writing, but mostly the acting. The actors clicked in the scene. It did not go unnoticed by the producers, who had Felicity written into more episodes to serve two purposes, plot technical intel and humanize Oliver Queen.

The third problem: The fans went nuts over the chemistry between Oliver and Felicity… thus creating Olicity.

The solution: Run with it.

The fourth problem: Oliver’s main love interest in the comic book world, and the TV show, was suppose to be Laurel Lance. However, the connection between those characters was a mess. Oliver hooked up with Laurel’s sister, she thought he was dead and hooked up with Oliver’s best friend… need I go on? It’s not like the storyline did any favors to their love life.

The solution: Change the Laurel character.

The fifth problem: No one liked the changes. Frankly, the changes were misguided. One of the only missteps of Arrow’s Season Two, btw, which has been amazing. However, they took a serious female lawyer with a strong moral compass and dressed her like a hooker, put her in the DA’s office with a pill-popping problem.

The solution: Make Laurel the only person that can see a friend of Oliver’s is really a major villain.

The sixth problem: Whinning. When Laurel’s quest to expose the villain fails, her drug problem is exposed and she becomes a sad character with no backbone. She loses faith in herself. Unfortunately, what might normally be a great character turn is minimized because we don’t care about Laurel. If a character that is riding the ho-hum train suddenly hits rock bottom, why should I care?

The solution: which hasn’t aired yet, so this is my solution… Make Laurel come out of this stronger. She needs to be smart and have confidence in herself. She needs to figure out she was right. No more whining. She needs to take action.

Unfortunately, I think my solution is also too late for Laurel to win viewers’ hearts. It would take a lot to make me like this character. And I’d never buy her as a love interest for Oliver. It fails on too many levels, even for a TV show with comic book roots.

The seventh problem: Olicity. How do you keep two characters apart when a majority of fans want them together.

I’m happy to say the writers know what they are doing on this score. It’s clear that they have obstacles in place, yet they are still giving viewers all the funny moments, the subtle moments where the characters connect, and tons of fiery arguments that keep Olicity fresh and fun to watch.

As writers, we should watch “Arrow” just to see how the show’s creative team continues the dance between Oliver and Felicity. They give and pullback with just the right touch. It’s so tricky, as they have to give the fans something, but they can’t let it get to the point where it gets boring. So far, there is nothing boring about watching the actors portray Oliver and Felicity. Kudos!

The eighth problem: The Kiss! The writers gave us a hug between Arrow and Felicity, and I say Arrow and not Oliver, because he was wearing his green crime fighting costume. In fact, it should be noted that when Oliver is Arrow, he’s much more emotional with Felicity. It’s a nice distinction, because there is a lot more distance between the characters when Oliver is a billionaire and Felicity is just his assistant. They are partners when he’s Arrow.

The solution: Let them kiss and spawn a whole bunch of new obstacles for the characters.

Wherever the writers and actors take Olicity, it sure will be a fun ride!

I don’t know anything, unless I know one thing…


That’s what the shrink lets me call them. Who am I kidding? I can’t afford a shrink. So, I’m gonna let my characters run wild all over this blog. They are the good guys, the bad guys, the sidekicks, the jokers, the femme fatales, et al of my current screenplays.

They rarely play nice.

They always cause trouble.

Perhaps they’ll get all that out of their systems by the time I’m ready to put them on the page.

Fingers crossed — although that makes it hard to type.

the Screenwriter