The Significance of Character in Screenplays: Insights from Cody Smart

I, Cody Smart, invite you to delve into the captivating realm of screenplays with me as we explore the profound significance of character development. As a passionate screenwriter myself, I have come to recognize the crucial role that well-crafted characters play in the success of a screenplay. Join me as we unravel the intricate layers and gain valuable insights into how characters become the driving force behind unforgettable stories on the silver screen. Let’s embark on this enlightening journey together and unlock the secrets to creating compelling and memorable characters that captivate audiences worldwide.

The Significance of Character in Screenplays: Insights from Cody Smart


As a script doctor, I work in stages rather than rereading the script multiple times before rewriting it. I have developed a systematic approach that allows me to efficiently analyze and improve screenplays. In this article, I will share my insights on the significance of character development in screenplays, drawing from my experience and expertise.

Formatting and Familiarization

I start by tackling formatting and familiarizing myself with the raw file. Proper formatting is essential for a screenplay to be taken seriously in the industry. It ensures clarity and readability, making it easier for the readers to envision the story. Additionally, understanding the formatting conventions allows me to identify any areas that need improvement or adjustment.

The Importance of Characters

Character development is at the core of any screenplay. Characters drive the story forward, engage the audience emotionally, and convey the underlying themes and messages. Without well-developed and relatable characters, even the most compelling plot can fall flat.

Key Elements of Character Development

  1. Clear Goals: Every protagonist should have a clear goal or objective they are striving to achieve. This goal provides direction and purpose to the story and creates tension and conflict. When a character’s goal is well-defined, the audience becomes invested in their journey.

  2. Core Wound: A core wound refers to a deep emotional trauma or insecurity that the protagonist carries. This wound shapes their behavior, motivations, and relationships throughout the story. It adds layers of complexity to the character, making them more relatable and human.

  3. Arc Linked to Structure: The character’s arc should be intricately linked to the structure of the script. Their growth and transformation should align with the major plot points and turning points. This creates a cohesive narrative that resonates with the audience.

Emotional Journey and Turning Points

Every turning point of the story needs to be connected to the emotional journey of the protagonist. Each major event or revelation should have a significant impact on the character’s emotional state and drive their actions and decisions. This ensures that the audience remains engaged and invested in the story.

The Importance of Script Structure

The structure of the script is crucial for its success. It provides a framework for storytelling, determining the pacing, timing, and overall effectiveness of the screenplay. While there are different approaches to structuring a script, it is important to meet audience expectations and provide turning points throughout the story.

Identifying and Addressing Issues

If there are issues with the script, I first look at the protagonist and the structure to identify and address the problem. By analyzing the character’s journey and transformation, I can pinpoint areas that may be weak or inconsistent. Making necessary adjustments to the character’s arc and aligning it with the structure can greatly enhance the script’s impact.


In conclusion, character development is essential to the success of a screenplay. As a script doctor, I analyze and improve scripts by focusing on formatting, character development, and script structure. By ensuring that the protagonist has a clear goal, a core wound, and an arc linked to the structure, I create compelling narratives that resonate with the audience.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. How do you approach character development in screenplays?
  2. Why is it important for the protagonist to have a clear goal?
  3. What is a core wound and how does it affect the character’s journey?
  4. How does script structure contribute to the overall effectiveness of a screenplay?
  5. Can you provide examples of turning points in a screenplay and their impact on the character’s emotional journey?

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