"Bond, James Bond..." is a great introductory line, but how can you master action-packed character intros that are all your own?
There are so many great character introductions in cinema and television history, from Indiana Jones stepping out of the shadows into the light to Walter White, in his undies, making a desperate plea. My personal favorite is Grace Kelly kissing a sleeping Jimmy Stewart in slow motion. But that might be because I am basically ten years old on the inside.
Check out the video from Lessons from the Screenplay and let's talk after the jump.
How to Introduce a Character Like James Bond
As you saw in the video, you can supercharge a character introduction by adding a little action. It doesn't have to be huge, but action sequences get the audience incredibly excited. Still, if this is when we meet your character for the first time, we also need those scenes to reveal something important to the audience. We need them to develop the character for the audience.
But when you're writing a car chase or fight scene, how can you use what happens to tell us something about the person in the scene? Let's go over three ways you can achieve the same sensations as they do in Casino Royale.
Tips on How to Write Character Intros
1. Stack the odds
When we meet Bond, he's got back up, but as the scene progresses, we get the odds are stacked against him. Eventually, it's a one on one chase scene where Bond reaches his physical limits. Since this movie was basically a reboot of the character, it had to set up the way we would see him interact with the real world.
This bond never takes the easy way out. We see that even when overmatched, he's stubborn, daring, and dangerous.
2. Force them to be creative
When the odds are stacked against you, you have to get creative. Bond's chase is thwarted at every turn. When he realizes he cannot keep up physically, he has to do all the mental work. That means things like stealing bulldozers and cutting ropes to launch himself skyward faster. Again, we see mental acuity in addition to physical prowess.
We also learn from his mistakes. We see what this character will not be good at and how those faults can haunt him the entire movie.
3. Surprise the audience
Lastly, when we're meeting someone during an action scene, we want to surprise the audience. What sets your character apart from the generic ones we've seen before? Why is your movie or TV show different than other iterations?
Bond had been through so many phases before this...it was almost unimaginable to think of him in a Tommy Bahama shirt, in the middle of an illegal gambling circuit, doing parkour while chasing a subject. For today's audience, that's the Bond we've come to know and love.
So what makes your character someone we want to travel with? Someone that excites us? Think about that, and then surprise us with the results.
What's next? Learn the 'action' genre!
The action genre is a high-octane thrill ride that gives the audience all the explosions and fights they can handle. But how can you utilize the lessons and tropes of action in your own writing?