10 screenwriting lessons from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2..L to R: Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Star-Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and Drax (Dave Bautista)..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2017

Lesson 10: Find Your Characters’ Voices

Identify what makes your characters unique and embellish it through their dialogue. The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise has probably the most colorful characters in the overall MCU. Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot all show their personalities through their speech.

Star-Lord’s references to 80s culture tells the audience of his stunted growth—indicating a form of childhood trauma. Gamora’s hard exterior and confrontational nature show that she’s put up a wall around herself for most of her life. Drax’s blunt, socially awkward comments add to his nature as someone unaware of others’ feelings. And Rocket’s offensive and abrasive nature comes through in his insult-laden dialogue.

Calvisi gives credit to Gunn really understanding his characters, defining them through their voices. Effective dialogue can only be created when you know your character. Writers need to understand their protagonists’ internal goals, external goals, skills, misbehaviors, and major flaws. Calvisi developed the Basic Story Map in order to identify these effective hero qualities.