Guides & Resources
Glossary for Screenwriting Terms
Camera Narrator
The camera dramatizes the process of viewing the action and bringing it on screen, allowing our eyes to see only what and how the ‘camera narrator’ shows it to us.
A card is text printed on the screen - either over black or superimposed over an image - that is needed to indicate location, time, date, or era. CARD: is written in all CAPS followed by the colon and typed at the same left margin as for character names. Underneath CARD:, the location, era, and date is written at character dialogue margins set off by quotes.
Character Arc
A character arc is the status of the character as it unfolds throughout the story. A character begins the story with a certain viewpoint, and after experiencing the events of the story, that point of view changes.
Character Attitudes
Attitudes convey opinions, a particular slant, belief, perspective, sentiment, or world view.
Character Change
Character change is essential to your main character’s arc. If after going through the main tension and reaching the resolution, the character does not change in some way - not always for the better - then the experience is futile for the audience.
Character Core
Most characters should never be predictable nor stereotypical. Instead, the character’s core personality helps to define who he/she/it is, which should be an interested and flawed being.
Character Description
Screenplays give a few lines of powerful character details when a new character is introduced, so the description will grab the attention of the reader as well as potential actors.
Character Development
Developing a character is essential to bringing that character to life on the screen. The writer must dig deep to unearth background history, personality, psychology, and current goals. There is no secret recipe as to how to develop a character, but starting with a physical description, followed by exploring the character through specific exercises, and learning more about the character by exploring the character questionnaire is a solid way to start.
Character Identification
Character identification occurs when the audience is linked to the character on an emotional level. Sometimes this occurs when a character is going through an action that someone in the audience has gone through. For example, the dad character may be changing his baby’s diaper for the first time and his son pees on him. Any father in the audience who has gone through that exact experience will identify. A more common form of identification, however occurs when the audience - regardless of whether they have experienced a particular event or not - can feel sympathy or empathy for the character in any given situation.
Character Paradox
Paradoxes are essential to creating fascinating characters who constantly surprise us, changing our preconceived notions about them. Unique and memorable characters are complicated, illogical at times, and often unpredictable.