Steadfast Main Characters

What are the Leap of Faith choices?

What is the Main Character choosing between when he/she makes a Leap of Faith?

The answer is that the Main Character needs to make a choice between going with the MC Solution, or going with the MC Response when he makes a "leap of faith" at the personal crisis point in the Main Character throughline.


Change characters come to a story with baggage. The baggage consists of the MC Problem hidden by blinders (layers of justifications), which are replaced by the MC Symptom as the apparent source of the MC's personal troubles. In comes the Impact (Influence) Character who disrupts the MC's equilibrium by introducing an alternate way of addressing the MC Problem -- one that MAY be more effective.

As the acts progress, the MC's blinders are torn (or worn) away. By the end of the story, all the blinders are removed and the MC can now see BOTH pathways open to him. The argument for continuing to use the MC Response to address the MC Symptom is balanced by the potential effectiveness of the MC Solution to resolve the MC Problem. Unfortunately for the MC, the amount of pressure applied on the MC by BOTH approaches is such that the MC must choose one or the other or risk a psychic break. Since there is no telling which approach will resolve the personal inequity of the MC, the MC must make a 'leap of faith' by choosing to discard his old way of doing things and adopt the MC Solution with the hope that he makes the correct choice (for him).


Steadfast characters' stories are slightly different. Generally-speaking, steadfast MC's do not have baggage at the beginning of the story -- at least baggage related to the personal issues to be explored in the story. Then, SOMETHING HAPPENS to throw the MC off balance (MC Symptom), which requires the MC to make a choice or do something in response (MC Response). This response to the event becomes the cornerstone of his apparent inequity. (For example, Dr. Richard Kimble's wife is murdered and he is wrongly convicted for her death.)

Unlike a change main character who comes fully-loaded with back story baggage and whose resolve is eroded as the story progresses, the story of a steadfast main character is the process of building UP the blinders. This works to focus the MC's resolve on the MC Symptom over the MC Problem (which acts as the source of the MC's drive). The Impact (Influence) Character performs the same function by increasing the pressure on the MC. With each act turn, the MC must shore up his resolve to counter the pressure placed on him by the IC.

By the end of the story, the amount of effort it takes the MC to maintain his resolve, matched by the IC's pressure to force him to change, threatens to overload the MC completely. Like a Change Main Character, the Steadfast Character cannot tell if continuing to try to resolve his personal issues by pursuing the MC Response is better than throwing away the source of his drive (MC Problem) and adopting the MC Solution. So, he makes a 'leap of faith' by blindly picking to stay the course and hopes it will resolve his personal issues.

What is the Main Character Resolve?

Does your Main Character Change his way of dealing with the problem at the heart of the story (such as Ebeneezer Scrooge’s switch to generosity in A Christmas Carol) or remain Steadfast in his convictions (such as the innocent Dr. Richard Kimble in The Fugitive)?

Change can be good if the character is on the wrong track to begin with. It can also be bad if the character was on the right track. Similarly, remaining Steadfast is good if the character is on the right track, but bad if he is misguided or mistaken.

Think about the message you want to send to your audience, and whether the Main Character’s path should represent the proper or improper way of dealing with the story’s central issue. Then select a changing or steadfast Main Character accordingly.

Do you want your story to bring your audience to a point of change or to reinforce its current view? Oddly enough, choosing a Steadfast Main Character may bring an audience to change and choosing a Change character may influence the audience to remain steadfast. Why? It depends upon whether or not your audience shares the Main Character’s point of view to begin with.

Suppose your audience and your Main Character do NOT agree in attitudes about the central issue of the story. Even so, the audience will still identify with the Main Character because he represents the audience’s position in the story. So, if the Main Character grows in resolve to remain steadfast and succeeds, then the message to your audience is, “Change and adopt the Main Character’s view if you wish to succeed in similar situations.”

Clearly, since either change or steadfast can lead to either success or failure in a story, when you factor in where the audience stands a great number of different kinds of audience impact can be created by your choice. In answering this question, therefore, consider not only what you want your Main Character to do as an individual, but also how that influences your story’s message and where your audience stands in regard to that issue to begin with.


  • Scrooge, A Christmas Carol
  • William Munny, Unforgiven
  • Luke Skywalker, Star Wars
  • Judah Rosenthal, Crimes story in Crimes & Misdemeanors
  • James Bond, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Casino Royale
  • Frank Galvin, The Verdict


  • Job, The Bible
  • Dr. Richard Kimble, The Fugitive
  • Laura, The Glass Menagerie
  • Cliff Stearn, Misdemeanors in Crimes & Misdemeanors
  • James Bond, most other James Bond films
  • David Moscow, Big