Step 2: Cast of Characters
Now that you’ve chosen a protagonist who you believe your audience will identify with, how do you really bring her to life? In order to get your audience to cross that bridge to immersing themselves in your story, your protagonist must reveal different aspects of her character and personality to really become human.
Your cast of characters are the other people who appear in your story. They play various roles in the plot’s unfolding – and more importantly – they show us different dimensions of the protagonist’s personality and character. Put another way, when you choose your protagonist, you’ve sketched an outline of that character. But once you surround that protagonist with other characters, you begin to fill in the sketch with colours that make the lead character all the more real and convincing.
Here's an image that might help you. Imagine your protagonist all alone in the middle of a large, empty room. Now, surround that protagonist with some mirrors – all at different angles and distances from the lead character. Each one of those mirrors allows us to see the protagonist in a different way.
For example: The villain can show us the protagonist’s courage. The love interest shows us the protagonist’s sensitive side. The protagonist’s child reveals her tender, nurturing side. The sidekick or best friend can show us the protagonist’s loyalty. You get the idea. Each member of the cast you choose helps the audience relate more closely to the protagonist – and makes it easier for the audience to cross that bridge into total immersion in your story.
Just about every great story has a strong cast of characters. Think of Gone With the Wind. Or Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Or even the New Testament for that matter. (After all, don’t we know the Jesus character better because of Mary and Joseph, Herod, Judas, Lazarus and the other disciples?) Some stories have a very small cast (like The Old Man and the Sea) while others have many members in the cast (like A Christmas Carol). The size of the cast is up to you.
So please give careful thought as to who you’ll include in your cast. And as you consider each potential cast member, ask yourself how that character shows us something new and important about your protagonist.
If you select your protagonist and cast of characters intentionally, you’re well on your way to telling the perfect story!
Fraser Green is a Principal at Good Works, one of Canada’s leading fundraising consulting agencies. At Good Works, Fraser’s focus is on legacy gift marketing strategy, donor research and, well, storytelling! Fraser is the co-author of “Iceberg Philanthropy” and “You Can’t Take It With You – The Art and Science of Legacy Fundraising” and the author of “3D Philanthropy.” firstname.lastname@example.org