Edict From Above: A Character Outline

On my lovely screenwriting course we must obey the orders of our Almighty Educators (this is a lie, it’s really free-form). One of the other things they, the powers that be, the thought police had us do, was outline a character in the following way:

  • List the character’s major actions. Start from the end and work backwards. (Don’t analyse how or why; just create a list of actions.)
  • Analyse the list to reveal the character’s wants and needs. Is the character aware of what they want?
  • Describe how the character thinks and look at his or her basic psychology. Intelligent? Intellectually engaged? Cognitive Biases? Impulsive? Cautious?
  • Describe the character’s superficial affect. How might a casual acquaintance describe them?
  • List any important physical characteristics.

Here’s my effort:

Title: One Neon Night Away.

List of major actions from back to front:

  • Penn begins love affair with Carmichael.
  • Tries to commit suicide.
  • Is crushed by realisation that (s)he is not human.
  • Fights to prove her/himself and intelligent, soulful being in court and causes public outcry.
  • Tries to prove her/himself biological by visiting a hospital; is comically disappointed. Discovers (s)he’s only five years old.
  • Carmichael rejects Penn and sends her/him away.
  • Carmichael explains that he can’t have a romantic relationship with an android.
  • Penn clumsily expresses love for Carmichael.
  • Carmichael helps her/him understand how to behave.
  • Penn hired to help throw a party. Android nature obvious to all but Penn.
  • Penn confesses loneliness/social ineptitude.
  • (S)he and Carmichael start talking. More suggestions that Penn is an android.
  • Penn heads to an agency looking for work. Hints of robot reality. (S)he sees Carmichael. Instantly stricken.
  • Penn outside. Explains world. Derisive of soulless androids.
  • Penn at home. Shabby and stuffed with instruments and paintings.



Penn wants a full life and knows it. Less aware of desire for identity (sexually, romantically, spiritually, organically). Extremely aware of lust after Carmichael.

Basic psychology:

Creative vagueness a deflection from a sad, disconnected personality. Highly intelligent, yet stubbornly ignorant. Profoundly innocent. Careless of own life. Inexperienced (only five years old, though appears and reasons as though adult). Wry outrage at the injustice of it all.

Character’s superficial affect:

An acquaintance would describe Penn as a decorative defective curiosity. The android is comically inefficient. The purpose Penn’s original creator ordained is unknown. We may only be sure that whatever it was is not one (s)he now fulfils.


Androgynous (!) but erring on male in appearance. Penn is elegant in design but hilariously clumsy in motion except when painting.


So there we are. I got quite into that. Who knows? Perhaps one day I’ll write it. Thanks academic overlords!





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