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Story Design: Hero

Lesson 8 from: Screenwriting for Film and Television: How to Begin

Julio Vincent Gambuto

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Lesson Info

8. Story Design: Hero

Next Lesson: Story Design: Want

Lesson Info

Story Design: Hero

okay. We talked about the setting. A quick correction from the last section of the class. The reference I was making to the eighties TV show was not small wonder. It was out of this world. E V freezes time by putting her fingers together in the whole world stops if you got that reference good for you. You know, eighties TV. If you didn't google it, it's actually a fantastic show. So s we talked about setting Hero is our next fundamental fundamental number two. Now, when I say hero, I do not mean the one who comes to the rescue. I mean classic storytelling wise. The hero is the main character, the person that we're following on his or her journey throughout the movie or TV show. Now you may have an ensemble cast. You may have multiple characters. We may follow the journeys of many, many different characters. But for the purposes of this class and for the purposes of understanding the fundamental on what you think of the hero as the main character, here's some questions to ask Who is the...

main character? Let's write about that first before you sit and engage them in scene work before you interact, interact with them and other characters. Sit and figure out who this person is. What makes them special? What makes them unique? Why are they in the main character of your movie? Why does why is their story the best story to tell to communicate your writers purpose or your premise or your core message? Okay, who is the main character? Secondly, what do they believe about the world? What is their perspective on the world? Do they agree with your writers purpose your premise, or do they disagree with it? What do they believe about the world? Right? Juno sees the world very differently than Forrest Gump. Forrest Gump sees the world very differently than Will Hunting of Good Will Hunting, right? All three of them see the world very, very differently. One is the perspective of a teenage girl who finds herself pregnant. One is the perspective of someone who has special needs, who wants to go out in the world and live a normal life and has all these crazy experiences. One is a working class guy who's a janitor at the school at MIT and becomes a math Phanom. They have very different perspectives on the world. So I want you to take a look at your main character and decide. How did they see the world do some writing to develop that out? Three. What's their full bio? Right. I do that as an exercise. A lot. Well, all right. The bio either in the third person or the first person. Ah, full page where this person go to school. What was their home like life where they religious? Do they party a lot? Do they like peanut butter sandwiches? Whatever the details are that you wanna lean into. Explore that, develop it. The mawr. You know your character. The more you know your hero, the better your story is going to be and back to my key. Take away the thesis of this whole class. If you can find these fundamentals and develop them and deepen them and clarify them, you're gonna tell better stories. Four. Put them through all the senses. What does Juno look like? Sound like smell like taste like feel like right. Put them through those senses. What is their world like? What is that? What they feel and smell. And here at home at the office on the train, on the subway, whatever it may be, understand how their world hits them. Five. What their strengths and weaknesses. What is these characters? Flaws? What is their main flaw? What is the thing that they need psychologically? Emotionally? Um, side note. I recommend to all writers that they study some basic psychology or that they engage in therapy with a therapist. The closer you can get to understanding the way that humans behave, the better writer you're going to be. And the more you can understand the way you behave and what makes you tick the memorial. Understand and be able to apply that into your characters. Let's take a look at Coco. Cocoa is an animated movie. It's a family movie. It's from Disney Pixar. It's a fantastic film. Let's put the main character through these questions. The main characters, actually not cocoa. The main character is Miguel. Cocoa is his grandmother, and you learn throughout the course of the story why it's called Coco. But he's Miguel. That's the main character. He is what he is. A Mexican boy who's 12 years old. He lives in his town with his family, and he wants to be a musician. Okay, you could write a page about that, and I'm sure that the writer did. So this is who he is. What does he believe about the world? What is his perspective? He believes that music is his dream, that the world is his oyster. He believes that success and fame are important. Those air, his values. He also believes that music and art is important and those air his values. Right? So that's how he sees the world. Now. There's also an opposing force there. His grandmother, um actually Cook owes his great grandmother right, his grandmother, who says, Okay, you cannot follow your musical dreams and your artistic dreams and you've got to stay in this town and be a shoemaker, which is the family business. So she believes something else. She has a different perspective. Three. What is their full bio? Well, without getting into, ah, five minute video about Miguel, you could write a full bio of Miguel where he lives, where he grew up, who his parents are, who his grand parents are, who is great, great grand parents are because that's all in the movie. Where does he live? He Also, he has. Miguel is a really interesting character. He has this little attic hideaway where he watches old classic movies of this great musician that he believes to be his grandfather. Really fascinating character. What are the spaces he inhabits? Who are his best friends? He's a dog who goes on his journey with him. What is their relationship like again? The more you develop these things, the more you flesh them out, the stronger The story is that you're gonna tell, Put them through the senses. Okay, Miguel looks like, um, he's this tall and he's a Mexican boy and he wears sort of casual village like clothing. And he hears the sounds of music and loves them. He hears the sounds of his town and loves it. He understands his world through a lot of what he hears. Does he taste anything? I think there's a couple of scenes in there where he's eating, so we understand what that feels like for him. And what does he feel? He feels overwhelmed by the pressure to be a shoemaker. He feels he wants to be a musician, an artist. That's how his world makes him feel. Five. What is the strength and weaknesses. Okay, well, Miguel strength is that he believes in the possibility of the world. His strength is that he is willing to go out and get it. He's willing to do what it takes to become a musician. His weaknesses. He doesn't really listen to people right, which could be a good thing. And a bad thing. His main flaw, Miguel, is that, um he doesn't believe he needs people to help him along on his journey. He's going to do it himself. Um, he also has a main flaw, which is that he believes everything he's told, or that he believes everything that he sees in the photographs that he has. He's very good at narrative izing and creating a story around all of the information that he's getting, which actually does something really brilliant in the movie, which is that we believe the stories he's making up about the fact that this was his grandfather and that creates opportunities for reveals and twists and turns. So, um, uh, getting into the hero is super important. Get to know your hero, get to know your main character, develop that person out before you write another thing

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Case Study Films
Story Analysis Template.xlsx
Sample TV Scripts
Story Design Worksheet
Story Fundamentals Worksheet
Seed to Script Process

Ratings and Reviews

Carlos Sandoval

Just a great way to start on your path to screenwriting. A clear and concise class with a friendly tone and humor. I think it is important that a teacher has actually worked in the field. Kudos.


Perfect for a beginner or actors who need a better understanding of what is and why is. Info packed and FUN too!

Asem Nurkina

I took this class last year. And after one year of working with presented tools (story design worksheet, story fundamentals workseet, seed to script process) on different projects I can say that it is very powerful and useful course I ever taken. I can strongly recommend this detailed screenwriting guidance by Julio Vincent Gambuto.

Student Work