The USA network adopted the “characters welcome” slogan to compete in the accelerated TV/streaming landscape that was emerging in the mid 2000’s.

I think it was a brilliant choice.

Character is an essential building block of story. Without characters, nothing happens.

  • What the Soprano’s without Tony?
  • What’s Finding Nemo without Marlin, Dory and Nemo?
  • What’s Schitt’s Creek without Johnny, Moira, David and Alexis?

Characters are absolutely essential to story.

In my work with non profits who aspire to tell their stories in a more compelling way, I see two fatal mistakes when it comes to developing characters.

  1. They make the organization a character. An entity is NOT a character. Your character should be a person (or a personified animal in the case of Disney) with individual thoughts and feelings. Characters are not monoliths.
  2. They strip their characters of humanity. Characters are interesting. They should have flaws. They should have funny qualities. They should struggle. They should persevere. Non profits like to sugar coat the experience of being human. But that’s what’s interesting to other humans!

Quick. Write down three of your favorite characters from books, TV or movies. What attracts you to those characters? What about them makes you care?

Those are the flavors you should be infusing into your own character development. Because characters are indeed welcome.