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Dating Your Character

A Sexy Guide to Screenwriting for Film and TV

by Marilyn Atlas, Devorah Cutler-Rubenstein, and Elizabeth Lopez

Dating Your Character: A Sexy Guide to Screenwriting for Film and TV, is based on the principle that interesting characters actually are co-creators in the writing process.

It’s organized into some of the standard stages in an evolving, romantic relationship, launched by a couple of chapters that encourage you to take some personal inventory:

  •      – Casting Your Ideal Character
  •      – The Meet Cute
  •      – The First Date
  •      – Serious Dating
  •      – Moving In Together
  •      – The First Fight
  •      – Making A Commitment
  •      – Hitched Or Ditched

On the way to a kind of trust and growing intimacy, the structure of the book traces the first flush of excitement, any awkward hiccups in communication, and the recognition and reconciliation of your different POVs.

Most books approach character development using a winnowing process involving general categorization and list-making. But, not much in the way of a truly in-depth synthesis of the collage of “facts” in the character’s biography.

The DYC method doesn’t start from the outside in. It doesn’t layer physical descriptions onto archetypal outlines, then color in the flaws and motivation to make that thumbnail sketch more personal.

DYC focuses on the importance of the individuality of characters: their eccentricity, drive, and relative "basis in fact" – inspired in part by people you know or you yourself.


Where to Order


What people are saying about Dating Your Character


Dating Your Character is a must for any writer who wants to create 3-dimensional, interesting, non-stereotypical characters that jump off the page! ”

Mary Lou Belli

Emmy award-winning TV director of The Game, NCIS New Orleans, Monk and Author of The NEW Sitcom Career Book


“ The authors offer every writer - beginner or seasoned, of screenplays, novels, games, or plays - a fun new approach to character creation. Designed with the breezy, can-do attitude of a self-help book, DYC offers practical advice on how to create a passionate, workable and working relationship with your characters. ”

Pamela Jaye Smith

Author of Show Me the Love! All Kinds of Love for All Kinds of Stories


“ Having had some experience with characters and a lot of experience with dating, I can say that dating your character is a better bet. ”

Ellen Sandler

Co-EP of Everybody Loves Raymond, Author of The TV Writer’s Workbook


“ The exercises here help writers become familiar with an actor's perspective, so your characters come across as living, breathing, authentic people. ”

Josefina Lopez

Screenwriter of Real Women Have Curves, Author of Hungry Woman in Paris


“ The best writers manage to let their characters fully imprint themselves on the writing process, leaning back and starting to trust their lead. ”

Leslie Conliffe

Agent at Intellectual Property Group


DYC is a great way to create meaningful characters that you can spend the night with and who will still love you in the morning!  Required reading. ”

Jennie Lew Tugend

Producer of Free Willy, Lethal Weapon, Return to Me


“ When I'm writing a script, I never leave my characters alone for more than a half day, otherwise they may get their own ideas and run off! For anyone seriously interested in character development, Dating Your Character has great exercises, examples and ultimately, inspires the creation of your beloved paper person. ”

Elisa Bell

Screenwriter of Little Black Book, Vegas Vacation

About Marilyn :

An award-winning producer and personal manager of actors and writers, Marilyn R. Atlas is equally at home in the worlds of film, television, and live theater. Among her credits as film producer are Real Women Have Curves for HBO, which won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, A Certain Desire, starring Sam Waterston, and Echoes, which won the Gold Award at the Texas International Film Festival. Recently Marilyn produced The Chocking Game for Lifetime Television based on the YA book CHOKE. In addition to producing a variety of programming for the cable/ pay TV market, Marilyn served as a production consultant on the film Call Me. She was also involved as a producer in the development of the MOW Nightwalker and Playing for Keeps.

She previously produced the musical version of Real Women Have Curves in Los Angeles in 2009 and is involved in the current musical development of Real Women Have Curves for late 2016. In the fall of 2012 she co-produced the play Detained in the Desert at the Guadeloupe Theater in San Antonio. Atlas continues to develop projects based on books and true life stories for television. Atlas has long been committed to the portrayal of women and diversity. She has guest spoken at various writers' conferences and colleges - in 2014, Marilyn spoke in the International Conference Writers in Italy.


About Devorah :

Devorah (“Devo”) Cutler-Rubenstein’s passion for storytelling and art brought her to Cal Arts where she earned her BFA in Film/Art from California Institute of the Arts. Most recently she completed her Masters in Professional Writing at USC, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences.

Over the years, Devo’s done everything from helping writers of short films on the way to production to editing novels and non-fiction books for the publishing markets.

As a dramaturge, she founded New Play Productions with RADA’s Gillian Eaton to develop, produce and co-direct domestic and world premieres for the stage. Then, she partnered with producer/actor Mary Saxon for four domestic premiers, which garnered several Drama-Logue Critic Awards and made the LA Times Top Ten list. Several of her projects were optioned and adapted for the screen.

Simultaneously, Devo launched a career in the executive movie ranks, and became Director of Literary Affairs at Columbia Pictures TV, and spearheaded Columbia Pictures’ NY Playwright’s Workshop. As Director of the Story Department at Marble Arch Productions, she worked on such TV projects as the Emmy award-winning Friendly Fire and features, including Muppet Christmas Carol and Zorro The Gay Blade. She then lent her talent to help launch major re-releases of foreign and domestic Kurosawa and Capra classics as VP of Marketing for Connoisseur Video. She made her filmic directing debut after winning the prestigious Discovery Program Award (others who won that year were Griffin Dunne, Christine Lathi and Rob Lowe). She co-wrote the critically acclaimed Peacock Blues, starring Poppy Montgomery and Bill Forsythe, which aired on Showtime’s Stories From The Edge. The 35MM featurette was a selection for a number of festivals, including the NY Film Festival, winning Audience Favorite and Best Short Film at the Moondance International Film Festival.

Most recently, she is revisiting Not Afraid To Laugh – 16 years later. It’s a reprisal of an original documentary about using humor to heal. Formerly the doc was nominated for a Peabody Award, won a Communicator Award and is archived in The Museum of Broadcasting for “excellence, historical significance, and social impact.” Academy Award nominee Ross Spears tapped Cutler to adapt and direct multiple narrative sequences for the PBS documentary Tell About The South. The independent film, focusing on literary giants of Southern fiction, was shot in North Carolina and Virginia.

For the last fifteen years Devo has been focusing on helping writers and screenwriters craft fiction, non-fiction and cross-platform media projects, with an emphasis on short films as an adjunct professor at various universities. She has written creatively for the literary scene with published poems, articles on the craft of writing, and she is a featured writer in Now Write! Screenplays and Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy And Horror for Tarcher/Penguin, published in 2012 and 2013, respectively. She hosted an internet talk show Funny You Should Ask, and for several years co-produced a weekly comedy show, called The Monday Show. Now at USC for the last ten years, she continues to help coach students from around the world write and direct short films through USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Summer Program.

As a working writer, she is a member of the WGA. Prior to starting her teaching career, Devo wrote for television and the movie business. Screenplays for film and TV episodic included work-for-hire at ABC, Columbia Pictures, Fries Entertainment, Interscope Entertainment, among others. Hoping to inspire the craft-career conversation for writers, she travels the world speaking at conferences, film festivals, and at pitch fests. Her articles, mentoring and seminars led her to be chosen Best Pitching Coach 2012 by Hollywood & Vine Magazine.

Her forthcoming book Dating Your Character… A Sexy Guide To Screenwriting For Film And Tv, is due from Stairway Press, Spring 2016. As CEO of The Script (& Novel) Broker®, she helps writers get their material ready to market. Devo lives in a house in West Hollywood, California with her husband, Scott, her dog Jumper-Jaxson, a cat Tsunami, two birds, Delilah and Samson, and two teenaged koi fish, Homer and Odyssey.


About Elizabeth :

Elizabeth Lopez attended Vassar College, majoring in English Literature. She was a screenwriting fellow of the L.A. Latino Film Festival and has had several articles published online and in print for entertainment-oriented magazines such as Gideon’s Screenwriting Tips. She started her Hollywood career as a story analyst for talent managers and production companies, including Vincent Cirrincione & Associates and The Little Company. As VP of Literary Development at Marilyn Atlas Management, she has been managing writing talent. She has taught screenwriting classes at the Ojai Writers Festival and at The Writers Store.