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Classical Storytelling and Contemporary Screenwriting by Brian Price

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NineteenDefining Traits

What’s Good and Appropriate

“In respect of character there are four things to be aimed at. Goodness, Appropriateness, Likeness, and Consistency.”

(Poetics, Part XV)

Before we examine Aristotle’s words of wisdom about those four essential attributes, let’s get a clearer sense of the final product for which we are aiming.

I usually start my character classes by having students compile a list of ten memorable movie characters and then provide five attributes that best describe each. In this way we can start to think of just what KIND of characteristics go into shaping an effective character.

The list often looks something like this:

  • HANNIBAL LECTER: charming, monstrous, brilliant, perceptive, insane
  • GEORGE BAILEY ...

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