Give Your Main Character A Powerhouse Introduction Your Audiences Craves

Who is the main character in your screenplay?

Your main character (hero) is the most important character in your screenplay. They must be different from all the other characters and they need unique and intriguing qualities and a specialness to attract A-list talent.

They must have the clearest goals, the most obstacles and the most screen time. Most screenwriters already know this.

The introduction of your character in your story is like a first date; a make or break moment. Did you know that people make their decisions about the potential success of a first date within the first 30-60 seconds? That is similar to the time it takes for your audience to decide if they’re going to root for  your main character.

Your character introductions are that important. Similarly, your audience will decide in a few moments whether they care about.

Going back to your first date, you choose an outfit that defines you; your values and personality. When you meet your prospective partner, your stance, your first words and actions are instrumental in determining how well it goes. In other words, you need to make a GRAND ENTRANCE. One with a lasting impact to highlight the stakes and central conflict of the story.

Ways to introduce your main characters

Characters can be introduced either in their TYPICAL (STATIC) or ENHANCED (DYNAMIC) states. If they are introduced performing mundane tasks such as getting out of bed, showering, dressing breakfast and leaving for work, how do they do it? Do they wait for the alarm, hit the snooze button or sleep through it? Do they take a long shower? Do they lather up luxuriously or quickly scrub a bar of soap over their bodies? Do they take a bath? Do they lay out the clothes they’re wearing for the day? Do they pull something clean out of a drawer or do they pick something off the floor and smell it before deciding if it’s too putrid to wear?

What is their breakfast like? Do they gulp a few mouthfuls of cold or scalding hot coffee? Do they eat cereal or pop tarts? Do they rush out of the house or leave calmly? All these factors define the main character’s traits. They familiarize themselves to their audiences. All this before a single word has been spoken, or the theme and plot of your movie has been explored.

Superheroes often have a benign introduction. This is a deliberate screenwriting technique to show heroes as being ordinary humans at their core. It also contrasts against the great feats they will later accomplish.

An enhanced state is seeing your main character in action. If they are a badass cop show them taking down a villain. Their typical state such as watching TV often follows.

Ideally the OPENING DIALOGUE should also be memorable, but more often, the memorably lines uttered around water coolers, are sprinkled throughout the movie after audiences are more acquainted with your main characters. Opening speeches also indicate the character trajectory, the plot and theme of the story. If the introductory dialogue doesn’t do this, you’ve started your story too early.

The next type of character entrance is an enhanced or excited state. Examples include on the battle front, jumping out of airplanes, fighting wild animals and driving at high speeds. Apart from being visually stimulating to hook your audience, these openings depict the superhuman aspects of our characters. These unique features will also attract certain actors to such roles.

Whether you choose a DYNAMIC or STATIC entrance for your main character, the function is identical; to define their personalities, goals and conflicts and hook your audience.

Let your screenwriting flourish.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. I’m wondering if it’s possible to have a shared lead characters. Where two characters are rivals in love, but have a common enemy or goal?

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