Welcome to DAY TWO in the thirty days to a first draft screenwriting thread.
Today we’re going to create the protagonist. Your protagonist or hero is the one who needs to carry the movie, so they better be interesting as hell.
You need to pick the most interesting protagonist possible.
One trick is to pick someone who is ill-suited for the job at hand. For example: Let’s go back to the GODFATHER,Remember the logline: The task is, after Don Corleone is shot you must take over the family business and root out your enemies.
You could make this movie with Sonny (James Caan’s Character) as the main character and it’d still be a good movie, but it wouldn’t be great. Sonny is suited for the job he’s a violent tough guy and criminal.
What makes it great as they pick MICHAEL instead. Micheal wants nothing to do with the family business he’s rejected his father’s lifestyle. This is what makes him a great protagonist. This also brings in a sense of irony that makes the story so fascinating, We’re going to take Michael, a man who rejects the mafia and is against everything it stands for, and turn him into the godfather
So pick your protagonist. Give him a name even if it’s just a temporary one. No time to labor over decisions like this. You can always change it later. That’s what find & replace is for.
Write about your protagonist for a couple of paragraphs. What do they do for a living? What are their flaws? What drives them? What is their philosophy? Do they have any unique physical attributes?
Now surround them with the supporting cast. Does the character have a BEST FRIEND? A MOTHER and Father? An antagonist? An inner antagonist–that’s someone who appears to be on their side but opposes them. Do they have a mentor? A boss? A love interest? List out your cast and give everybody a name. Again, don’t wait to name them. That will always stall you. Write about each person and make bold decisions about who they should be.
It can be helpful to cast them. Grab pictures on the internet of actors you’d like to use to play the character. Or use your friends. It can be a short cut that kickstarts your imagination to base characters on people you know or actors you like.
If you want more ideas on creating a character, check out this video on Creating Characters using great Television icons.
Now you have your cast. Tomorrow we’ll add an ANTAGONIST.