The Main Character

"You can never know enough about your characters."

—Somerset Maugham

The next step of your writing journey toward writing a completed, exciting screenplay is to focus on the main character or protagonist. To create a successful main character takes hard work and a lot of thought. A character just doesn't happen. A character is born through the labor of your imagination, investigation, and examination. All this work eventually culminates in developing a believable, complex character.

When I first began teaching at UCLA Writer's Program, I discovered that creating characters was (and still is) the biggest problem for most writers. Even in stories that were well-structured, the weakest link was always the characters. Some were cliched, others one-dimensional, many were weak and others were boring. No matter how great the story if the characters were stock or stereotypical the screenplay flopped. In this chapter you'll learn the techniques for developing an original main character who makes your screenplay work.

To create a fascinating and compelling major characters you'll have to start the journey to delve into your own self. After all, you are the creator of a world, which is peopled with many different human beings. You're the one who develops all the characters and it is up to you whether or not they'll be unique, memorable and original.

Therefore, before you begin to write your screenplay you have to decide who your main character will be. Although it is true that you'll have many characters in your script, in order to have a direction or focus for your screenplay you may only have one main character, hero or protagonist in your story. This is an important rule to remember. For example, when you go on a journey you can only reach one destination at a time. You can't possibly be in two different places at the same time. How can you be in New York and Los Angeles at the very exact moment? You can't.

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