Screenwriting : Vote Protagonist vs antagonist tips by Vander McLeod

Vander McLeod

Vote Protagonist vs antagonist tips

Classic yin and yang, good versus evil.

Every character is significant; they all serve a purpose; they are all believable.

So you are writing from the protagonist’s point of view or antagonistic, either way, follow these two fundamental tips. There are other ways, though these two are the usual and classic ways to write up your hero versus villain.

First - Yin Yang.

Let’s say your hero is strong, fast, proficient with firearms, and martial arts, then your villain would be the complete opposite. He could be fragile, slow, but where he fails in martial, he thrives in intelligence and cunning. He is possibly rich, with an army of goons.

Both are pretty much equal, although they are complete opposites — a one-person army versus an army of goons.

Second - Superior.

Here you would write the main enemy as a force to be reckoned with. The threat should appear overwhelming, and your character should feel that they haven’t the slightest chance to win.

Maybe your character is an ordinary human with no specialized combat training, and the enemy is a powerful ancient vampire. Writing this kind of character makes the audience will your character on. It drives him to succeed, even though the tide is against him.

In this case, you could possibly use elements like the enemy underestimates him, or use the environment to your advantage to trap him. Your character would likely fight harder to, like a trapped rat.

Felix Boahen

Great post. You sound like a teacher to the beginners. That's a great work, Vander.

Vander McLeod

Thanks, if any of my advice helps others, then great.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Opposition certainly is key, but considering and utilizing the function of the antagonist within story terms is extremely important to be effective. A great antagonist knows how to attack the protagonist's greatest weaknesses, pull the rug out from under her/him, not just physically but emotionally as well. Nolan's Joker is an exceptional antagonist and villain.

Beth Fox Heisinger

To add... It may be helpful to define antagonist per its function, its plot role. An antagonist is not necessarily "evil." This isn't always a good-versus-evil thing; it's more about opposition. An antagonist is a person (or an antagonistic force) who actively opposes the protagonist, either an adversary, a rival, an enemy, etc. This post rather looks at it through the lens of a physical battle, military fighters or warriors. And why not? It makes sense. We see it portrayed that way often on screen. But a "villain" is someone whose evil actions are important to the plot, their actions drive it—a person (or group or thing) responsible for doing harm or damage in the world. A villain may be bad and is doing bad things, but those bad things have nothing to do with the protagonist. They are not in direct opposition. But... perhaps thereafter the protagonist/antagonist relationship soon develops as a result of the villain's prior actions. An adversarial position forms as the two are on opposite sides. Anyhoo, I find it very helpful to pull back and look at writing terms per their function. Nolan's Joker is both: antagonist of the story and evil villain.

CJ Walley

Further to Beth's points which I strongly agree with, this is why parallels and mutual empathy can be so powerful when developing the relationship between a hero and a villain. Using this can really help build the conceit that concludes the protagonist's journey and learning.

Really, the antagonist force is always trying to destroy the will of hero and any physical side is the superficial representation of that.

Ultimately, it's this separation of plot and character that allows us to create happy, tragic, bittersweet, and cautionary ending types.

Felix Boahen

I think, Beth, needs to be crowned GURU. She has really explained and differentiate these elements ( antagonist and villain) which complicates. I think it's now clear to every one following this post.

Thanks much, CJ.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Wow... Shucks, guys. I’m blushing. Thank you so much. Honestly, I really enjoy craft and if I can help others or share what I have learned in my own discovery, then that truly makes me happy. ;)

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