Avoid Stock Characters: How To Create Memorable, Compelling Characters

Taught by Melissa Daykin Cassill


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Who Should Attend:

All levels of producers (advanced, intermediate and beginner) looking to hone their skills in creating memorable characters.

All levels of filmmakers (advanced, intermediate and beginner) looking to hone their skills in creating memorable characters.

All levels of screenwriters (advanced, intermediate and beginner) looking to hone their skills in creating memorable characters.

Actors looking to hone their skills in creating memorable characters.

Satisfaction Rate:

Class hosted by: Melissa Daykin Cassill

Vice President at State Street Pictures

About Your Instructor, Melissa Daykin Cassill: Melissa Daykin Cassill is Vice President of development and production at State Street Pictures, a production company with a first look deal at Fox2000. A native of Iowa, Melissa began writing and producing as a kid in her parents’ backyard. After moving to Los Angeles in 2003, Melissa worked at The Firm, Creative Artists Agency, and Miramax Films, where she was first promoted to Creative Executive. She followed Miramax with a Vice President role at Gunn Films, a production company based at Disney, before her current position at State Street. Full Bio »


Learn directly from Melissa Daykin Cassill, VP of Development and Production at State Street Pictures (Faster, Beauty Shop, Barbershop, Notorious, Nothing Like The Holidays)!

You hear it again and again: “We’re looking for character driven drama/comedy/action/name your genre.” You may have a great plot, amazing action sequences, or the most hilarious idea for a comedy set piece but without great characters, you’ll be dead in the water.

Why? Because everything should be motivated by your characters. What would The Godfather be without Michael’s change from the good man who served his country to a vengeful and tyrannical ruler? What would Star Wars be without the father son drama? Creating memorable characters is such an essential aspect of creating a compelling, sellable story, yet so many writers struggle with doing it correctly and fail to avoid the trap of stock characters that leave their scripts lifeless and weak.

The Stage 32 Happy Writers is thrilled to bring you a 3-week online course Avoid Stock Characters: How To Create Memorable, Compelling Characters so you can learn how to create the memorable characters your story deserves. This class is taught by Melissa Daykin Cassill, VP of Development and Production at State Street Pictures, a production company with a first look deal at Fox 2000 Pictures. What Melissa loves most about her job is working with writers and developing exciting, compelling projects and she’s excited to be here teaching with Stage 32 to help you develop compelling characters in your story!

In this class, you will learn how to set up a character arc so the character’s change is compelling, how to develop supporting characters who support the story and compliment your protagonists, how to avoid stock characters and scenes and how to adjust what you already have to make your work better. With interactive lectures and weekly homework assignments directly geared toward strengthening your characters, you will leave this class knowing exactly how to create memorable characters for your stories.

The class was very helpful and gave practical and process-related information. It was also encouraging to hear insider information and positivity in terms of breaking into the business.”


“I see it better now how to use structure and character take good to great”

“Very, very helpful! Enough notes to continue on my script and make it even more interesting.”

“Answered so many questions and opened my eyes as to how to gage what is wanted and what is not.”

“First of all, thank you. I appreciate the notes about focus on character rather than a one trick (one joke) pony. I can apply this to my scripts.”

What You'll Learn

Week 1 - Creating Strong Main Characters

  • How to create your characters before you start writing
  • Techniques on how to define your protagonist as well as the characters around him or her
    • Archetypes – what are they and how can they be useful?
    • Defining your web of characters
      • Desire vs. need
      • Achilles Heel or flaw
      • Values
      • Problem – internal, external, global
    • Using the first 30 pages to build character more successfully
  • Recorded Q&A with Melissa.

Week 2 - Creating Strong Supporting Characters

  • What should actually be on the page when presenting characters.
  • How to create wording that takes up very little space but fully explains the character’s bio.
  • Building character through contrast in your supporting cast vis a vis your protagonist.
  • How to create meaningful and effective supporting characters by linking their worldview to the film's premise.
  • How to use supporting characters to subtly enhance your protagonists’ arc, as well as the story as a whole.
  • Recorded Q&A with Melissa.

Week 3 - How To Connect & Compare The Supporting Tribe Of Your Movie To Enhance Your Entire Project

  • Volunteers will present their supporting characters
    • How do they most effectively assimilate into the world of the protagonist?
    • How to they assimilate into the world of the story overall?
  • How to adjust your concept, plot and story to connect the characters.
  • Recorded Q&A with Melissa.


  • This class is designed for beginner and intermediate students looking to hone their skills in creating memorable characters. This is an in-depth, practical, and detailed class with significantly more content than a standard 90-minute webinar.
  • This class will consist of 3 sessions, each roughly three hours in duration.

About Your Instructor

About Your Instructor, Melissa Daykin Cassill:

Melissa Daykin Cassill is Vice President of development and production at State Street Pictures, a production company with a first look deal at Fox2000. A native of Iowa, Melissa began writing and producing as a kid in her parents’ backyard.

After moving to Los Angeles in 2003, Melissa worked at The Firm, Creative Artists Agency, and Miramax Films, where she was first promoted to Creative Executive. She followed Miramax with a Vice President role at Gunn Films, a production company based at Disney, before her current position at State Street.


Q: What is the format of a class?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Classes are typically 2 to 4 week ongoing broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I have to have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online class, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the class.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the class software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The class software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live class. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer 

Q: What if I cannot attend the live class?
A: If you cannot attend a live class and purchase an On-Demand class, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.

Q: Will I have access to the class afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand class, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!


If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.

Reviews Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5

  • Melissa was great! She gave me insight into a story I am developing that really allowed me to see not only what wasn't working but what could be developed for maximum benefit to the story. She was candid, direct, and honest. She helped me see how I can make things I write better.That is what I was looking for.

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