How Creating Dynamic Characters Can Grow Your Compassion and Life Perspective

Creating Dynamic Characters

Each of us views the world through a different set of eyes. And each of us has been deeply affected by the past events of our lives; they create who we are and the distinct perspectives we have today. We filter the world through the events of our past and they eventually shape our futures.

The best way to practice compassion is by creating characters with a different life perspective than the one you have. This quote by Mary Lou Kownacki says it best: “There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.”

One of my favorite characters I’ve created, Iris, comes to mind. She appeared to me in daydreams. She had long dark hair and pale skin and was strikingly beautiful. I had, however, a sense of how she interacted with other characters; she was hostile, and I didn’t approve of her. She enjoyed watching other people fall apart, I was scared as a writer to embrace her, so I shut her up. Why should I write a character that awful?

I said that a life perspective is created by accumulated events. Iris was tenacious about having her story told; she persistently showed up in my thoughts and eventually I listened to the muses. It didn’t take long for me to discover that she had been kicked out by parents as a teenager for being trans and had to hustle the streets to survive.

A life perspective lens is like a theme. For Iris and her past traumas, it became: “We are all liars; successful people never get caught.” Fleshing her out made me realize that not only does a character’s life perspective work for him or her, but also the life perspective might have saved the character’s life.

I discovered more about her as the story unraveled and it became a joy to write her. The other characters disliked her but not me. By placing myself into her shoes, I developed a compassion for people in real life who may have similar life perspectives.

There are seven billion human life perspectives on this planet right now. The world would be a better place if we took the time to listen and accept the voices of those that we believe are not like us. Too many of us waste energy fighting to prove that we have the right view. Each character you write is an opportunity for you to help yourself and the world grow. Write the stories that broaden our perspective and show us what it truly means to be human.

And feel free to apply this to your real life as well. Is there someone in your life you strongly dislike? What past events might have shaped this person’s life perspective to make him or her this way? If you’re feeling even more inspired, have a conversation with this person. You may be surprised at what you discover.

As Mr. Rogers once said: “Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”


Jeremy-FrazierJeremy Frazier graduated from Carnegie Mellon with a MFA in Drama Writing. He is the recipient of the Max K. Lerner Playwriting Fellowship and the Shubert Playwriting Fellowship. He was also a finalist for the John Cauble Award at the Kennedy Center for his one-act play, We’ll Always Have Paris. Jeremy was recently named as a quarter-finalist for the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards competition for his feature screenplay, Of Flesh and Blood. As the founder of the Actor’s Writing Gym, he loves working with actors to help them create their dream roles and believes that actors make the best writers.

Leave a Reply
William H. Macy: “This may sound pretentious, but I am getting better at what I do every day”
"I love the fact that I work every day." - William H. Macy
Luke Hemsworth on ‘Westworld’: “It was a no-brainer to me. I was absolutely going to jump onboard”
"As an actor, if you're given very little information about what's going on, then you're forced to make it up." - Luke Hemsworth
Khary Payton on His ‘Walking Dead’ Audition: “It was one of the more substantial auditions I’ve ever done”
"I always say I’m in the hope business. You’ve got to stay hopeful. You’ve got to get up off your behind and try again..." - Khary Payton
Hayley Atwell’s Best Career Advice: “I’d say the main thing is: show up. Show up and be professional”
Atwell reflects on her career and recounts why she wanted to become an actress since she was a child and what was the best career advice she ever received.
Mike Colter on Playing ‘Luke Cage’: “I was looking at it from the standpoint of an artist”
Colter says that it didn't take long for him to understand the importance of the character in comic book history.