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Interview Austin, Page, TRMS Winning Screenwriter Drina Connors Kay (Free Subscription)

Interview Austin, Page, TRMS Winning Screenwriter Drina Connors Kay (Free Subscription)

In this newsletter, Interview Austin, Page, TRMS Winning Screenwriter Drina Connors Kay (Video), Introducing the Antagonist (Article), Contained Screenplay Scenes (Video), and A Single Room Scene (Article).

Interview Austin, Page, TRMS Winning Screenwriter Drina Connors Kay

Introducing the Antagonist

When the audience sits down to watch a movie, they're immediately looking to identify the hero - even if they don't realize it. Because of this, I've advocated for giving the hero a memorable introduction. The hero should stand out and be easy to identify, even in a crowd. The same goes for the antagonist, but in a different way.

The antagonist and his plan, whether he realizes he has a plan or not - some antagonist don't openly realizing they're the bad guy - is what sets the story into motion and results in the hero's arc/change. Therefore, it's imperative that the audience identify the hero early in the story. By engaging the audience immediately with the antagonist, the story takes on suspense as the antagonist pushes the hero toward change.

While the antagonist's introduction doesn't have to be as memorable as the hero's introduction, he should stand out. Give him unique traits, distinct mannerisms, catchphrases or a visually striking appearance that sticks with the audience - like a long, jagged scar on his cheek. These types of elements will help the antagonist stand out and remain unforgettable long after they're defeated.

A memorable antagonist possesses distinctive motivations that are easily comprehensible. The audience should understand why they behave in such a manner, while the hero's underlying internal conflict should slowly unfold throughout the story. This creates both a hero and an antagonist that the audience relates to and/or understands.

Unlike the hero, the antagonist doesn't have to have a single redeeming quality. He can be bad on page one and bad on the final page. However, some writers prefer to introduce the possibility of redemption for the antagonist to add depth to their character. Will they eventually choose good or evil? A villain with the potential to change is unpredictable, making him alluring in a storyline. But be careful, because his change (arc) can easily upstage the hero's arc. Remember, the story isn't about the antagonist's journey, it's about the hero's journey. In my opinion, it's better to stick with redeeming qualities and arcs for the hero. For the antagonist, just give him a redeeming/human moment that makes him more three-dimensional to the audience. An antagonist who murders at will, but wouldn't harm a hair on a dog's head is enough to make him seem human.

Another key to introducing the antagonist is to make it clear that he's more powerful, emotionally and even physically, than the hero. He can outwit the hero at will. The stronger he is against the hero, the better. This builds suspense because the audience isn't convinced the hero can defeat this nemesis, and they'll stick around to find out what happens.

While it's important to understand the villain's motivations, don't take it too far. We don't need to see FLASHBACKS of how the villain went from a Boy Scout to an assasin. Reserve the in-depth, internal conflict exploration for the hero. A few, well-placed pieces of dialogue or a single scene in the present-day storyline can cover the villains's motive - or bake it into the cake. For example, maybe we see an overbearing father always telling his deadbeat son he'll never amount to anything, which pushes the villain to commit more hideous crimes.

One final note, the hero MUST change and have a completed arc BEFORE he's strong enough, emotionally and/or physically, to defeat the villain. The hero we met on page one is gone - the new, improved hero is the only one who can take out the nemesis. If the villain's taken out before the hero's arc emerges, the plot fails.

Contained Screenplay Scenes (Video)

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A Single Room Scenes (Article)

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