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The protagonist, or main-character, is who your story is about.

Is your story about a woman who climbs Mount Everest? Then, the woman is your protagonist. Well, actually I shouldn’t say that. Perhaps your protagonist is the sherpa who leads the woman up the mountain. But, then of course, your movie would be about a sherpa who helps a woman climb Mt. Everest…

Your protagonist doesn’t have to be male or female, young or old, human or animal. It can be pretty much anything you can dream of. Your main-character could be a Monster (Monsters Inc.). Or a car (Cars). Or an alien (Under the Skin). Or a group of people (Poseidon Adventure). Et cetera. Pretty much anything can be the star of your movie, as long as the audience can connect

with them and root for them (and, of course, as long as you can give them a quest or goal to shoot for.

Before you even start writing any more than the most basic brush-strokes of your story, you should know your protagonist inside and out. You should know at least the basics of his or her backstory. You should have a very good idea about their character. Their speech patterns. Accent. Way of carrying themselves. Manner of dress. Hair color. Etc…

You are going to be needing to write dialogue for this character that flows 100% naturally. You need to be able to think like the character. You need to know what makes them tick. You need to know their history. You need to be able to speak convincingly as someone who isn’t you. And, not just one character either!

I’ll go into a lot more detail about the protagonist’s character arc later. But, to summarize, your main-character needs an internal-conflict to overcome. A character-flaw or problem that is preventing him from fulfilling himself as a person (and also from fulfilling the ultimate quest).

It’s not until the protagonist overcomes this character-flaw that he’s finally able to achieve victory.

For instance, if your protagonist is an alcoholic attorney, he won’t be able to win the big case until he goes cold-turkey.

If your main-character is a racist, like in American History X, he won’t be able to save his brother and get him out of the neo-Nazis before he changes himself first. Before he learns to love other people and have tolerance. Only then can he convince his brother of the error of their ways.

How many times have you seen a movie where the Dad ignores the son or daughter, always having to work? Then, by the end of the movie, the father will have learned the true meaning of family and love? Well, that’s his character arc.

In The Graduate, the movie starts out with Benjamin being anti-social and wanting to be by himself, to separate himself from his family and friends. He doesn’t want anything to do with other people. By the end of the movie, he’s found love and is rushing off to a new life with his stolen bride.

First he has extra-marital sex with Mrs. Robinson (very bad) - and by the end he’s professing his devotion to his one true love and running off while everyone tries to stop them (very good).

How to create a protagonist or main-character for your screenplay:

The Character Arc:TL;DR:FORWARDThe Protagonist!

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The First Act of your Three-Act Structure. This is where you introduce your main characters to the audience and get the plot rolling. The end of your 1st Act comes with the First Turning Point, the point at which your protagonist chooses his quest The 2nd Act - Where the bulk of your plot goes. Confrontation - this is where your protagonist confronts the status quo and attempts to change it for the better Your 2nd Act can't end without your Second Turning Point! Things may seem bleak for your protagonist, but all is not lost yet! There is still hope!... Backstory - what happened in the past. Exposition, expository dialogue, etc... It all comes down to this - your climax! The end of your story. The conclusion. The one thing everyone in the audience wants to know: does the protagonist win? The 3rd Act - the final act in your three-act structure, where everything is decided, the climax, the conclusion, the end. Your Film's Theme - what your movie is really about. The undercurrent. The second act of your screenplay should be filled with ups and downs, dramatically speaking of course. Like a roller-coaster. It's all about creating conflict and drama. BACK Welcome to SCREENPLAY.today - your free online screen-writing program - learn how to write a screenplay for free! Free Online Screenplay Writing Course from SCREENPLAY.today - screenwriting advice, help, information, hints, tips & tricks