Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

Disney Writer Ricky Roxburgh’s Guide to Character Development

In my opinion, there are a LOT of things that Disney does well when it comes to storytelling, and few could argue that one of those things isn’t character development. It’s the reason kids and adults like me can’t seem to get enough of Olaf, Princess Tiana, Lilo & Stitch, Moana, and more. So, we could think of no one better to teach us a few Disney tricks of the trade than Ricky Roxburgh, writer for Walt Disney Animation Studios TV shows including “Tangled the Series,” “Big Hero 6 The Series,” “Monsters at Work,” “Mickey Shorts” and more! He’s an expert in character development for screenplays.

“Characters always have to serve a need in the story. Everything stems from your main character. That’s your point of view. That’s the drive of the story.”

Disney Writer Ricky Roxburgh

But we wanted to know, how do you write a character that’s interesting enough to lead the cast?

“The main thing I do is I just ask myself a lot of questions,” he revealed.  “You know, how does this character see themselves? How do other characters see this person?”

It’s kind of like you’re interviewing your character, making up the answers as you go along. I love this list of questions to ask about your story’s characters, by TheWritePractice.com. There’s something so fun about discovering the type of person your character is via questions like these.

“Unique characters come from flaws, and quirks, and shades of gray. Once you have a character that has some of those, and it feels real for your central character, finding those other characters that will push that character out of his or her comfort zone, speak a truth to them that they won’t listen to, bring out the flaws in your character, they all kind of build from there.”

The rest is repetition.

“Then you can ask yourself those same questions about those characters as well and build them out."

As Mary Poppins would say, in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun! I can’t wait to read who you dream up,

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