How the Movie Frozen Taught Me to Create Great Characters

I never thought I’d be writing about a Disney movie, but if you’ve seen the movie Frozen, it’s hard to deny it has a number of engaging qualities.

The story is cute, about two sisters. Elsa is the older and has magical powers to freeze anything she chooses. Anna, the younger sister and heroine, must find true love if she is to be healed from a frozen heart. While she expects love’s healing touch to come from her suitor, the true magic happens when she and her sister are reunited and share that special love that only sisters can.Frozen - Anna and Elsa

But what really has me watching the movie over and over…ahem…I mean letting my kids watch it over and over – are the characters. From a loveable talking snowman, to heroes that don’t always get it right. I love the characters!

There are definitely some lessons for writers to learn here. So how do you build characters that keep people re-reading your book over and over?

The best characters…do what you don’t expect. Take Olaf for an excellent example. He’s a snowman who loves summer and warm hugs. Who would have thought? Every phrase that comes out of his mouth has me giggling, or at least smiling, because it is so unexpected.

Frozen - Olaf

The best characters…are real. I love the scene early on when someone is waking Anna to dress for the coronation. Her hair is rumpled and she’s mumbling answers, still half-asleep. It’s not her most attractive image, but the scene is hilarious because we can all relate!

Or what about the time that she was trying to appear stern and in charge when she was ‘commanding’ Kristoff to take her up the mountain. She meant to toss him the bag of carrots to prove she had everything under control, but her aim was off and she chunked him in the head. And then she couldn’t stop apologizing. Now doesn’t that sound just like something I’d do?FROZEN

The truth is, real people do and say things imperfectly. And so do memorable characters.

So now, my question for you is: What traits have you noticed in your favorite characters? In the books you’ve re-read enough to tatter the pages, what was it about those characters that drew you? Or maybe you have a favorite scene from Frozen that highlights another aspect of an excellent character?

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2 thoughts on “How the Movie Frozen Taught Me to Create Great Characters

    • Oh, that sounds like a great movie night! I truly feel it’s the characters that make it such an unforgettable movie, and still fun to watch over and over. Lots of lessons for writers there!


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