This week’s video shows how you can mimic the movie Forever Young in crafting a slam-bang opening that hooks readers by immediately introducing a fascinating main character.
Video Transcription: Beginnings are tricky. They have to accomplish all kinds of goals in very little time and few words. But arguably the most important goal is that of introducing the main character in such a way that the reader immediately gets a sense of who this person is and why they’re going to want to follow him around for 300 pages. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by introducing your character in a “characteristic moment.” Show him in situation that brings the salient details of his personality and lifestyle to the forefront.
This is accomplished marvelously in the 1992 movie Forever Young. The opening shot features a early version of the B-25 careening through the skies, while test pilot Daniel McCormick (played by Mel Gibson) gleefully struggles to keep it under control. This action-packed opening scene accomplishes several important goals:
1. It immediately grips the viewer’s attention thanks to the high tension of the out of control plane.
2. It establishes the importance of flying, which will be a prominent motif throughout the film.
3.It introduces the historical setting, since it’s immediately established that the B-25 has just been invented.
4. But, most importantly, it weaves all these important elements into a scene that introduces main character Capt. Daniel McCormick in characteristic moment. From just the few minutes of this opening scene, we learn that Daniel is a test pilot, that he loves being a test pilot, he’s skilled, he’s good-natured, he’s reckless, he’s funny, and he’s good under pressure.
All that in less than four minutes! By time Daniel brings the crippled plane to a dramatic landing at the end of that four minutes, we’re hooked. The beginning’s skillful introduction of character means we’re more than willing to follow Daniel through the entirety of his adventure.
Before I even get started I guess I probably need to disclaim my title. The very fact that I was the type of person who wanted to write a story in the first place probably means I was never normal. Stories running rampant in my head, imaginary people demanding my attention, random bits of dialogue popping off my tongue. Yeah, most definitely not normal. But it gets better—or worse, depending on how you look at it.Related Posts: Utilizing Character in Beginnings
Story by K.M. Weiland