Writing On Spec

An award caliber procrastinator discovers a new and dangerous pursuit to keep him from actually writing another script. Why another Blog? I love to talk screenwriting. I love to talk story. I live in Richmond, VA. It's almost easier to get produced than find another screenwriter here. We are the anti-LA.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Bad Guy

There's a great couple page article in the new Writer's Digest about writing good bad guys (or three dimensional bad guys). It's a great excuse to mosey on down to your local Barnes & Noble or Borders, grab a cup o java (or water), the latest Writer's Digest and have a good read (then return the magazine and leave).

Still astounds me that concept isn't a problem with the stores.

But... moving on.

Creating a good bad guy. I say bad guy, but really, from their perspective, they aren't the bad guy (typically).

My first suggestion is don't dilute your nemesis. The first Batman was a great flick - one nemesis - The Joker. Played great. Every other one (until the most recent Batman Begins) felt that the more bad guys the better. No. The more the worse. With all the Batman sequels, the drama was divided and there just wasn't enough time to devote to a good nemesis. The makers relied on the history of the series to make up all the backstory, but it just didn't work in my opinion.

One of the best bad guys, and the movie wasn't bad either, was the general from The Rock. Here was a decorated soldier with a deceased wife who cared for the soldiers who served under him. His problem was that these soldiers were not being recognized for their sacrifices and their families not rewarded appropriately for those said sacrifices.

From his perspective, he has chosen the only action left to him. Threaten to blow up a city to get the attention of the government who has swept their servicemen's deaths under the rug. Obviously, this is not the appropriate action (according to our writer).

Another good nemesis was in Unbreakable. From his perspective, there was a logical reason for doing everything he did, and there was no other alternative.

The popular advice is to make your bad guys three dimensional as well. Make them as big and bad as you can so that the hero's task of defeating them seems impossible. While this is good for the plot, it doesn't always involve the audience in the character's struggles. If the audience can understand where the nemesis is coming from, then it puts them in an uncomfortable position of wanting the hero to win, but not wanting the nemesis to lose.

For romantic comedies it might be the person who is trying to prevent the relationship from developing. They may have a very good reason for this - and if we can show the audience how valid that reason is, then they should struggle with the romance as well. They will want it to take place because they love our main character(s); yet feel for the nemesis because they have a valid desire for the relationship not to solidify.

A good exercise when creating your nemesis is to tell the story from their perspective. Why are they doing what they are doing? Why is our hero opposed to them? Why should they win and not the hero?

It may be that the only thing flawed about the nemesis is their interpretation of the information they have or the method of implementation they choose that makes them fall on the bad side of the story.

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