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introduce all the supporting-characters by calling them by their first names!

In just a few short scenes, you’ve managed to introduce a whole bunch of different people, and shown the audience a bit about each of their characters.

You only have 20 or so pages for the entire first act, you have so much to do, there’s no time for long, drawn-out introductions. You need to let the audience know who’s who as quick as possible - so you can get onto the more important things, like the plot, the theme, the character arc and the first turning point.

If your main-character is an anti-hero, you probably want to introduce him doing something bad, very bad. If he’s a traditional hero, you probably want to introduce him doing something good.

You typically want the audience to relate the the main-character, to ‘like’ him or her. It’s not necessary, but usually it’s what you want. You want the audience to think that the main-character’s quest is actually their quest (at least subconsciously). You want the audience to feel the highs of victory and the lows of defeat. You want them to be involved (emotionally). So, if you can introduce the protagonist in a way that makes the audience really like them, so much the better.

So, you will often see protagonists getting introduced by solving some wrong. Like beating up a drug-dealer who just stole an old lady’s purse. Or helping a destitute woman. Etc...

There’s a reason so many scripts start with the main-character getting out of bed and going through their morning-routine: it’s an easy way to introduce your protagonist and tell the audience a little bit about them (and also provides a nice place to super-impose the opening credits). Then, they can walk into the kitchen - where a supporting-character can call them by their first-name (so the audience knows the protagonist’s name) - and he, in turn, can

Introducing Your Characters! FORWARD

Screenwriting 101:

PROPER SCREENPLAY FORMAT

SCREENWRITING SOFTWARE

SCREENPLAY TEMPLATE

SAMPLE SCREENPLAY PAGES

BEGINNER SCREENWRITERS

FILM SCHOOLS

SCREENWRITING DEGREES

SCREENPLAY STORY STRUCTURE

HOW LONG SHOULD EACH ACT BE?

THREE ACT STRUCTURE

START WRITING NOW

STORY-STRUCTURE TEMPLATE

THE FIRST TURNING POINT

THE SECOND TURNING POINT

PROTAGONIST’S CHARACTER-ARC

GET COVERAGE


Introducing the Main-Character:

Trainspotting has one of the best introductions/inciting-incidents around. Lust for Life pounds on the soundtrack as Renton and Spud come blasting around the corner, contraband flying everywhere, being chased by two coppers (combined with an epic, poetic voice-over).

Just look at what this tells you about the characters in just a few short seconds: they are criminals, they don’t care, they are probably homeless or on drugs, they are skinny and unhealthy, dressed poorly, this is set in Scotland, etc…

Then, they introduce all the supporting-characters. They are buddies, they play football (or ‘soccer’ as normal folks call it), they have absolutely no concern for the baby, they are all heroin addicts, etc…

Introducing the Supporting-Characters:

Another good film to watch to see how they introduce the characters is Armageddon, the Bruce Willis/Ben Affleck killer-asteroid movie.

Watch how they introduce all the minor characters, they’ll only have maybe a quarter of a page - and yet, they manage to not just introduce each character, but they manage to tell us everything we need to know about that character’s persona. In just one short scene.

And then again, when they go on leave right before taking off in the Space Shuttle. Each character only gets a short little scene to tell us what happened to each of them - and yet each scene is perfect for the character (not to mention funny).

And again when listing all their demands (for payment). Each item is well-chosen and tells us about each of their personalities. And, again, funny as well. Just look at how much of each character’s character the screenwriter is able to get across in such a tiny amount of space!

If you don’t like popcorn movies like Armageddon of disturbing, drug-filled black comedy/dramas like Trainspotting, try 12 Angry Men (1957).

They have 12 individual characters to introduce and just look at how well they do it. By the end of the film, we know so much about each character it’s like we’ve known them our whole lives. That’s what you should strive for in your screenplays. Don’t just introduce characters, show us what they’re like.

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