Arts & Entertainment

Character Development

The Duffer Brothers

Lesson time 21:19 min

Matt and Ross teach you how to develop ideas for characters and how to introduce the most essential character arcs in your pilot script.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Discover Your Essential Characters • Zoom In On Key Characters • Mine Your Own Life • Create Arcs For Essential Characters • Set Up Your Characters In The Pilot Script • The "John Hughes Effect" • Let Your Characters Surprise You • Assignment Character Ideation


[MUSIC PLAYING] - Whatever this thing is it's not traveling far. - Will's body, it was a fake. - I don't think my parents ever loved each other. - It's not safe. - OK so hopefully, if you've done some blue skying, you've come up with some various characters just how like we did with 11 with our Sheriff Sam Rockwell character. So now that you've got all these, another thing that we often do is we start listing all the characters, the ones that we think are going to make the show. But again, even though we are going in a little more detail now by making a list of our characters, we want to start really broad. We don't want to get lost in the woods of too many details. So we're going to show you right now like the initial list we made of characters that we thought could be integral to this show. So as you see in this document, we've got kid who has taken, Tommy. - That it becomes well. So some of these names did not stick. And again, I think the reason that is obviously the first character we wrote down. Why we know for a fact that character is going to make the show because the show is about the drive of the show is about a missing kid, right? Sometimes it's nice to throw some names out just to give you something to hook onto. We've got best friend Joel. Joel obviously will become Mike later on, nerd friend, Neil, who eventually becomes Lucas. - Yeah. - We've got overweight friend, Dustin, Joel's parents, we don't go into any detail about them. Joyce and Guy, I mean, his name is Guy. That's how vague this is right now. We've got Tommy's parents, Tommy being- - Is Will. - So Joyce, we obviously switched. Again, all of these names are on Wendy, Arthur. Sheriff, we went into a lot of detail there, Sheriff's pregnant wife, she obviously didn't make the show. Not all these characters are going to come up with are going to make it. As you continue to develop, you're going to see who's going to make it in who's essential to the plot and who's not. We've got Sheriff's daughter. That character obviously didn't make it. We've got escapee, which was eventually becomes 11, the escapee from the lab. So again, baby steps, we're starting very small. We're just going these are some of the characters who might make it in terms of the names. That can be a fun detour. You're hitting a wall. You're getting sort of tired of blue skying in it. One thing we like to go is we'll just go into like Social Security site. And we'll punch in, we'll figure out do the quick little math in terms of what when these kids would be born. So in the case of this, it was like sometime in the '70s. And we would just type in. And then you can choose. You can go top 1,000 names from 1972. And you're going to get a list starting with most common to least common names. And you can start to look through and make sure. First of all, you make sure the names are period correct. And also you can start to...

About the Instructor

Before they turned our world upside down with "Stranger Things," Matt and Ross Duffer honed their scare tactics on Wayward Pines and their debut thriller, Hidden. Now, the acclaimed showrunners reveal the dark science of creating a monster hit. Craft gripping story arcs, conjure unforgettable characters—like Eleven or Jim Hopper—and turn your raw idea into a pitch for the next big thing to cross over from the other side.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

The Duffer Brothers

Matt and Ross Duffer—the "Stranger Things" masterminds—teach you how they plotted the series from beginning to end, and how you can bring your own idea to life.

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