Second Act, Constructive Creativity for the Screenwriter
From the desk of Professor Bailey...
The Professor
This week's writing assignment:
Give your protagonist a flaw; give your antagonist a virtue.
The most memorable characters on the big screen are those that provoke mixed feelings in viewers -- love and hate, support and disapproval:

William Munny Unforgiven
Benjamin Braddock The Graduate
Lester Burnham American Beauty

These are characters whose creators refrained from forcing them to be good or bad, strong or weak, serious or playfull, but instead instilled them with the complex life of all of the above.

Imagine a character you admire...

...make a list of his or her actions that you don't admire; you may have to exaggerate what you consider little, insignificant nuances. Freewrite about this character, letting yourself slip back and forth between positive and negative, developing material from each list as the impulse moves you.

Now let's look at some antagonists...or the people we love to hate:
Al Capone The Untouchables
Norma Desmond Sunset Boulevard
Hannibal Lector Silence of the Lambs

Choose one of the above, or another that you know well, and make a list of admirable qualities. Again freewrite about this person as you did with the character you admired.

Now, apply this to your protagonist and antagonist. List bad qualities for the good, and good qualities for the bad.

Step away from these lists for a few minutes. When you come back, apply this to your work in progress.

Professor Bailey




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