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How To Create Great Screenplay Heroes

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 3 7

Create compelling heroes

There are many opinions on the countless ways to breathe life into screenplay heroes, but a character cannot be compelling on the page or the screen without these five elements. It's the writer's job to see that the character gets a fighting chance to grip the audience by providing him with the following.

Things You Will Need

It might help to begin with an image of a person who might visually resemble the hero you have in mind.

Step 1

Give your hero a difficult decision to make. The richest characters are those who demonstrate who they are through their actions. The more decisions you provide, the more compelling the story is for the audience. That's because before your character makes a decision, the audience will either be: 1) guessing what they would do in this situation or, 2) guessing what choice the character will ultimately make.

Step 2

Give your character an important goal with an impossible deadline. Make the goal something tangible, something which can be measured. At the end of the story, the audience should be able to answer the question, "Did he achieve his goal?" Also provide the character with motivation for achieving that goal, then create an opposing character who will throw obstacles in the hero's path at every turn.

Step 3

Make your character unique in the way he speaks, carries himself, in his opinions, and in his attitude. Listen to sounds around you, like cars in traffic, or musical instruments and give your character dialog that mimics the sound pattern. Maybe his speech blares like an annoying horn, or maybe it hums like a well tuned engine. You can duplicate these patterns in the way you write your dialogue.

Step 4

Give your character flaws. Even if he is the hero of your story, no one is 100%. The audience can't relate to perfect characters because they don't know any in real life.

Step 5

Give your character a life before the story. Maybe he's running or hiding from something. If he never does anything, or says anything that eludes to a time before page one, then he appears to have been born on that page. Your character should have memories from childhood, old wounds, past loves, and secrets that color who he is today. Letting the audience see some of this will make him a real and believable character.

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Tips & Warnings

If you start your project as suggested, getting inspired by using the image of a person who may resemble the character you have in mind, it's best to use someone unfamiliar to you. Grab a face out of GQ, look to a friend, or find an image online. Look through your social sites, maybe you'll find the ideal character face there. If you use an image of someone you've seen repeatedly, Brad Pitt for example, you may find your writing influenced by one of his film roles. You want your character to be authentic, and not a mimic of someone with whom we are familiar.



Jun 27, 2010 11:22pm
I am amazed at your wealth of information on this unique subject. You present this well for ease to follow. thank you and I enjoyed it fully.
Jun 30, 2010 8:26am
Great article, thanks!
Aug 3, 2010 10:48am
These are wonderful facts about how to create a hero, whether it is for a screenplay, a novel, or a short story! Thanks for the helpful information.
Aug 4, 2010 5:16pm
Great article. It is so informative and helpful! I will keep this in mind while writing my next screenplay.
Dec 15, 2010 7:41pm
Another awesome screenwriting tip. These are amazing, people pay good money to attend classes that give less information than what you've given here. Thanks!
Dec 15, 2010 8:18pm
:) Thank you Jerky! And welcome to IB Screenwriting 101! I sincerely appreciate your generous comments on all my articles.
Dec 15, 2010 10:59pm
You deserve every millimeter of praise I can muster, and then some. You truly are providing a very valuable resource to screenwriters with your articles. Hopefully most readers will get the value out of them I have.

Oh, and one more thing: Keep 'em coming! I've already enrolled in IB Screenwriting 102! In fact, I'm looking for a Master's :)
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