The Orange County Screenwriters Association
    Be Inspired, Do Good Work

    How To Introduce A Character In A Screenplay

    In a character introduction, the name of the character is stated first. The description of the character follows the name. The character's name is written in capital letters the first time it appears and before the character speaks for the first time.


    KELLY BRANDT clutches her camera as she pushes through a crowd of people who are gaping with shocked expressions at flames leaping from a nearby building. KELLY's  stark beauty and intense blue eyes are illuminated in the firelight as she presses forward, determined to get her first story assignment on the front page of tomorrow's Daily Gazette.

    In the character description of Kelly, her age isn't specified. But the description of her beauty, her eyes, the way she  moves with determination, and the fact that this is her first story assignment provide clues that she's young. When Kelly "pushes through a crowd," we learn that she's assertive and ambitious. Kelly's personality characteristics are defined by her actions here, as well as by the physical description of her.

    It takes only a few sentences to describe a character. But keep in mind that you need to carefully choose the descriptive words that best define the character and his or her personality.


    Down the street, ALLEN  MARSHALL steps out of his jeep. ALLEN is thirty-two years old, unshaven, dressed in faded jeans, T-shirt, boots, and a cap emblazoned with WBBD Radio. He moves with long, confident steps toward the crowd and the burning building.

    In the description of Allen, his age is stated. The way Allen is dressed and the fact that he is unshaven tells us a great deal about him. Also, he's driving a jeep—another expression  of personality. We can see that Allen is defiant, cares little about what others think of his appearance, and is very confident, which he expresses in the way he walks. The cap he's wearing provides clues about his job and complements his personality. The jeep fits in well with Allen's unshaven face, his faded jeans, and his boots.

    Screenwriters can benefit from reading published screenplays to learn more about how characters are introduced and described.

    To introduce a character and write a description, ask yourself several questions:

    1) Who is your character? Is this character the protagonist, the antagonist, a supporting
        character? What is the character's name? Describe the character's physical
        characteristics and personality characteristics.
    2) What does your character do for a living? What is he trying to achieve? What is his
    3) When does the story take place? Does it take place now, in the past, in the future?
    4) Where is your character located? Describe the physical location.
    5) Why does your character look or behave the way he does? What is his motivation?
    6) How do your character's mannerisms or actions define his personality?

    Creating Characters Based On Personality Type


    Copyright (c) Orange County Screenwriters Association

    Fair Use Statement

    Fair use refers to the right to reproduce, use and share copyrighted works of cultural production without direct permission from or payment to the original copyright holders. It is a designation that is assigned to projects that use copyrighted materials for purposes that include research, criticism, news reporting and teaching. When a project is protected under fair use provisions, the producers of that project are not subject to sanctions related to copyright infringement. The maintenance of fair use protections is central to many non-profit and education projects, especially those that operate in digital and online spaces.

    This website may contain copyrighted material, the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright holders. The material is made available on this website as a way to advance research and teaching related to critical media literacy and intercultural understanding, among other salient political and social issues. Through context, critical questioning, and educational framing, the Critical Media Project, therefore, creates a transformative use of copyrighted media. The material is presented for entirely non-profit educational purposes. There is no reason to believe that the featured media clips will in any way negatively affect the market value of the copyrighted works. For these reasons, we believe that the website is clearly covered under current fair use copyright laws. We do not support any actions in which the materials on this site are used for purposes that extend beyond fair use.