One day in April, 2011, Kate Chaplin and Veronica Diaz from Karmic Courage Productions sat down to discuss screenwriting.
In this episode Chaplin and Diaz provide tools to get to know your Hero/Protagonist. Great advice, tips and worksheets that not only relate to screenwriting but all forms of creative writing.
Tips Mentioned in this Episode:
- Characters are who your audience will relate to. Your hero/protagonist is your most important character in your story
- The American Film Institute defines a hero as: Sometimes mythic figures, sometimes ordinary people who prevail in extreme circumstances. Heroes dramatize a sense of morality, courage and purpose often lacking in our everyday world. Heroes do what is good, just and right; and even though they may be ambiguous or flawed characters, they often sacrifice themselves to show humanity at its best and most humane. LINK
- Define your hero, really get to know him or her by doing character breakdowns and profiles before writing your script
- Ordinary Day Worksheet from Veronica Diaz
- Character study worksheet Character Analysis
- Allow your character to have flaws. Flaws make a character relatable
- Think about the use of an Anti-hero. Examples, Scarface, Taxi Driver
- Think about the use of Group protagonist; many people working towards the same goal. Examples: Reservoir Dogs, Usual Suspects
- Three things that describe your protagonist: What your character says, what your character does, what other people say about your protagonist.
- The audience relates to universal needs: love, belonging, freedom or fun.
- Give your protagonist a unique trait
- The protagonist has to have action – what does the protagonist do to reach his/her goals?
- Every protagonist has to sacrifice or experience some kind of death. Death of an actual person or the death of an ideal or belief.
- Every protagonist goes through growth of a We –> I or a I –> We
- Don’t be afraid to have a protagonist start off weak, giving them room to grow
- Fish out of Water stories allow the audience to go on the journey with the protagonist as they are both not sure of their surroundings
- Whatever flaw the protagonist has it needs to be a strength for the antagonist
- Antagonists also need to have flaws
- Antagonists create conflict and push against the protagonist to stop them from achieving their goals of love, belonging, freedom or fun
- Creating a memorable protagonist and antagonist is what is going to keep people talking about your movie
- Allow your characters to change as the story progresses
- Allow your protagonist to fail, but be able to write them out of it.
Links/Films Mentioned in this Episode:
- American Film Institute’s description of a Hero
- In the Heat of the Night
- The Social Network
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- Silence of the Lambs
Helpful Books/Links Relating to this Episode
- Full list of the AFI “100 Best Heroes and Villains'” http://www.filmsite.org/afi100heroesvilla.html
- From Action, Cut, Print – Script Breakdown: Character Analysis http://actioncutprint.com/filmmaking-articles/filmmakingarticle-04/
- Writing the Character Centered Screenplay by Andrew Horton (Amazon link)
- Creating Unforgettable Characters by Linda Seger (Amazon link)