Creating a successful character is something I think any screenwriter aspires to, I think for me, it's creating a character that lives with you long after the last frames of celluloid have left the screen, but becomes part of your memory, your past. They are a character that makes up your history. Not every character can be that, but as a writer you strive to write a character that is not a two dimensional paper draft, but a living breathing person. That is not linear, not all good or all bad, that has habits, likes, hobbies, annoying characteristics, a twitch, a style. They are flesh, if only in the head of the writer, until the director takes that visual description and puts them to film.
One of the most successful characters, that is part of my making, was Lloyd Dobler, ge 19,is not your typical teen star.
Lloyd’s style is an individual, he wears a signature trench coat and sneakers. His favorite t-shirt is the Clash, which defines his style and his music taste. He doesn’t fit in a mold. Even his hair is short, but not military short, but spikey.
Lloyd’s only goal in life is to date Diane Cord and to make her happy. The worst thing that could ever happen to Lloyd would to be trapped in a bubble to follow what is expected.
Lloyd knows that he doesn’t know what he wants to do as a career, but he doesn’t pretend like his other classmates that he has ANYTHING figured out. Lloyd thinks the worst thing that could ever happen to him, is buy, sale or process something that has to be bought and sold. He doesn’t want to follow in his father’s foot steps and join the Army, the only thing that makes sense for his future is Kick boxing (and this was BEFORE ultimate fighting). Lloyd is basic, simple, but not in a bad way, he doesn’t want to pretend to be anyone that he is not, that is what makes him unique. He is caring to people, even if they have been cruel to him. If given even the worst job, he would do it and take it seriously, like being the “key master.”
If Lloyd where to die, his epitaph would say, “If you start out depressed, everything else is a pleasant surprise.” His greatest love and desire in life is Diane Cord. He would do anything just to make her happy and be a great date, that is his goal in life right now. The goal is enough for him for now. Even when his heart is broke, he still will be there for Diane, even if she just needed someone, not him. There is something that is the essence of Lloyd, that makes a person hope to find qualities in their boyfriend.
Lloyd's qualities are not revealed in epic monologue but in actions and reactions of the characters around him. I am not implying that he is a perfect character, or the best character ever written, but he has depth, and this is what makes a successful character. Above all, there is a three dimensional quality.