Little Things creator Dhruv Sehgal on the art of character building for streaming

Authored by Dhruv Sehgal, actor and creator of Little Things on Netflix
A still from Little Things
A still from Little Things

Stories have the magical power to keep us all connected at all times of the year. From their intriguing twists, to cliffhangers, to on-screen characters, they bring us all together. Long form storytelling told over many episodes is a writer’s dream canvas. Writers are taking big, creative swings which are setting new standards in storytelling- captivating characters that break through the zeitgeist. Creating characters that become part of our lives and conversations around us effortlessly is the hallmark of a terrific writer. Staying with the audience beyond their viewing experience is the true mark of a writer.

The series format is a great way to exercise skill and different styles for a writer, and long form writing facilitates the creative process to a large extent. The thumb rule to writing entertaining content for streaming platforms is in the writer’s capacity to create a character that can hold a storyline. The canvas of a long format show allows the writer time to truly develop characters holistically, allowing characters to come alive in the most authentic manner possible. Much loved characters like Dhruv and Kavya in Little Things are perfect examples of the marriage of plot and character which is crucial to the success of long form writing. They must be woven together delicately to create a seamless blend of storytelling, entertaining audiences through the authenticity of characters and a gripping plot. With streaming services like Netflix, writers have the freedom to create characters from scratch, enabling audiences across ages to resonate with these stories. 

The writer’s job is to weave a story that the entire crew is invested in; invoking emotion and utilising the skill set of each member to create engaging content. Characters are developed in a way that allows them to impact not only the audience, but the writers as well. The ending of one season and the beginning of another allows writers to delve deeper into the character and their journeys but not at the cost of changing the essence of the show.

Progression of storylines from one season of a series to another should be in harmony, building comprehensive characters on the way.  It is the ability to define characters, make their worlds interact with each other and intertwine their lives that moves the story from the beginning to the end.

Character building is essential to creating incredible cinematic experiences that allow the audiences to experience a range of different emotions. Creative initiatives introduced by streaming services like Netflix’s ‘Writer’s Room’ enables writers to think through the storyline in great detail, develop characters to make them more real and elevate storytelling for the series format, especially with a title like Little Things. Writers are now writing to suit different moods, across genres and are giving birth to characters that have struck a chord with audiences everywhere. 

Character building as an art has flourished amidst the golden age of entertainment in India with streaming platforms opening up a world of opportunities for writers and storytellers. Great films, series and characters are built on the foundation of exceptional writing and I am assured that the creative community will shape the future of Indian entertainment.

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