ScriptBully Magazine

Screenplay Format Q&A: How the Heck Do You Introduce a Character in a Screenplay?

Former Hollywood script reader shows writers screenplay format best practices when it comes to introducing your characters.


San Diego, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/21/2014 -- Screenplay format "sounds" about as creative as a tax seminar. But according to Michael Rogan, editor of ScriptBully magazine and former Hollywood script reader, screenplay format is one the quickest ways managers and agents can determine whether a screenwriter is a rank amateur...or a professional worth considering.

And nowhere is a mastery of script format more important than introducing characters. Unfortunately it's an area that many writers fail to deliver on.

"People spend months working on the motivations of their characters. But then they spend just a few seconds on "introducing" their characters," said Rogan. "It's a HUGE mistake, and one that can derail a screenplay's chances of getting moved up the Hollywood food chain."

This isn't to say Rogan believes good character introductions can "save" an otherwise poorly-executed story "No amount of clever description can rescue a story that royally sucks," said Rogan.

But good screenwriting is about an economy of words. An ability to say less, and express more. And nowhere is that more evident than in introducing the characters that populate a screenplay.

"When you introduce your characters you are telegraphing your ability to paint pictures and draw character sketches," said Rogan. "And most of're showing your ability to work within the confines of the form."

And in the case of character description: the confines include a) writing the character's name in ALL CAPS the first time we see them and b) including the age of the character.

But Rogan believes it's really about who NOT to describe. "One big mistake newbie screenwriters make is to over-describe minor characters who take up very little screen time. Ya gotta know where your screenplay's bread is buttered..."

"And then keep on buttering it."

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