Script Analysis: “The Good Dinosaur” – Part 3: Characters

Reading scripts. Absolutely critical to learn the craft of screenwriting. The focus of this weekly series is a deep structural and thematic analysis of each script we read. Our daily schedule:

Monday: Scene-By-Scene Breakdown
Tuesday: Plot
Wednesday: Characters
Thursday: Themes
Friday: Dialogue
Saturday: Takeaways

Today: Characters

Characters are the players in our stories. They participate in scenes, move the plot forward through action and dialogue, influence each other, evolve and change. Each has their own distinct backstory, personality, world view, and voice. When a writer does their best, digging deep into their characters, tapping into their souls, the players in our stories magically lift up off the printed page and come to life in a reader's imagination.

We continue our analysis of the script The Good Dinosaur by considering the characters in the story. You may download a PDF of the script here.

Screenplay by Meg LeFauve, story by Peter Sohn & Erik Benson & Meg LeFauve & Kelsey Mann & Bob Peterson, original concept and development by Bob Peterson, additional screenplay material by Peter Hedges & Adrian Molina.

IMDb plot summary: In a world where dinosaurs and humans live side-by-side, an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend.

Here is a list of the key characters from the script in order of appearance:

Henry (Poppa)

Ida (Momma)

Libby

Buck

Arlo

Spot

Forrest Woodbush (The Pet Collector)

Thunderclap, Downpour and Coldfront

Ramsey

Nash

Butch

Bubbha, Pervis, Lurleane, and Earl (Velociraptors)

Writing Exercise: Think about the respective narrative function of each character. You may find using archetypes — Protagonist, Nemesis, Attractor, Mentor, Trickster — as a helpful tool. Remember, these are masks characters can wear, shifting one to the other from scene to scene.

Major kudos to Rhidian Pentz for doing this week's scene-by-scene breakdown.

For Part 1, to read the Scene-By-Scene Breakdown, go here.

For Part 2, to read Plot analysis, go here.

Tomorrow we shift our focus to the script's key themes.

If you have a favorite movie script you'd like to break down scene-by-scene and contribute to our archive, as well as provide the foundation for a week's worth of discussion and analysis, email me with your suggestion.

Note: The script has to be available online somewhere.

To see the archive of scene-by-scene breakdowns, go here.

Circling back to where we started, reading scripts is hugely important. Analyzing them even more so. If you want to work in Hollywood as a writer, you need to develop your critical analytical skills. This is one way to do that.

So seize this opportunity and join in the conversation!

I hope to see you in comments about this week's script: The Good Dinosaur.

Go Into The Story

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