Help with Antagonist Background in the story structure

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  • Help with Antagonist Background in the story structure

    Let's say I have an antagonist with a sad past(his parents have died. Later, his sister has died, too). How shall I write those events in flashbacks:

    a) spread flashbacks: write a part of it(like a scene or two) at, let's say, page 18, another scene about his past at the page 22, another at the page 40 and so on or:

    b) continuous flashback: write an entire sequence(5 - 10 min.) with the entire sad past at, let's say, page 25-30 or even later at the page 40-50?

  • #2
    Re: Help with Antagonist Background in the story structure

    Originally posted by BrainDestroyer303 View Post
    Let's say I have an antagonist with a sad past(his parents have died. Later, his sister has died, too). How shall I write those events in flashbacks:

    a) spread flashbacks: write a part of it(like a scene or two) at, let's say, page 18, another scene about his past at the page 22, another at the page 40 and so on or:

    b) continuous flashback: write an entire sequence(5 - 10 min.) with the entire sad past at, let's say, page 25-30 or even later at the page 40-50?
    1) Why is it important to the story that your audience knows his backstory? If your audience never hears his backstory, will they be confused, or think the plot makes no sense?

    2) Why is it that a flashback is the best possible way to get this information to the audience, instead of a) a title card b) opening the film with those scenes c) having one character tell another character in a sentence or two d) implying it by having him visit a grave, have a photo on his wall etc. or any number of other ways?

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    • #3
      Re: Help with Antagonist Background in the story structure

      Flashbacks need to move the story forward, how will these flashbacks do that?

      Bill
      Free Script Tips:
      http://www.scriptsecrets.net

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      • #4
        Re: Help with Antagonist Background in the story structure

        Originally posted by Staircaseghost View Post
        1) Why is it important to the story that your audience knows his backstory? If your audience never hears his backstory, will they be confused, or think the plot makes no sense?

        2) Why is it that a flashback is the best possible way to get this information to the audience, instead of a) a title card b) opening the film with those scenes c) having one character tell another character in a sentence or two d) implying it by having him visit a grave, have a photo on his wall etc. or any number of other ways?
        1) It's somehow important. He is a person who gave up on life, but lives for only one thing -- revenge and the reason he "gave up to life"( he sees no meaning in life and sees humans as being useless creatures)is because he lost his parents and sister when he was around 10-12 years old.

        Besides being a genius, he is a good painter who used his gift to paint and try to sell his paintings to earn money for his sister's cancer treatment after their parents have died.
        But being young and a no name, he couldn't earn money. his sister has died. He started to feel weak, meaningless. He started to think that life itself is meaningless. He become a nihilist because of that and I want to somehow put that in the script.
        2. Not necessary a flashback, but I don't want to start the script with that either. I want to start it with something more important.

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        • #5
          Re: Help with Antagonist Background in the story structure

          I'll find another way to show that without the flashback.

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          • #6
            Re: Help with Antagonist Background in the story structure

            Originally posted by BrainDestroyer303 View Post
            I'll find another way to show that without the flashback.
            Flashbacks are discouraged in general because they are considered a lazy way of getting across important information. Even if they are used, they're typically reserved for the protagonist, since that's who the audience is mostly following and needs to identify with the most.

            I'd go with staircaseghost's recommendations and consider more creative ways to provide the details to the audience. They can include the visual clues such as visiting a grave/hospital or viewing a photo, or the info can come out in a heated emotional situation such as an argument or the antag expressing his sadness to a close associate.
            "I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.-- Peter De Vries

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            • #7
              Re: Help with Antagonist Background in the story structure

              I'd be concerned with showing the sad past of an antagonist's life as you don't want them to be empathetic in any way to the audience.

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              • #8
                Re: Help with Antagonist Background in the story structure

                You want to be careful about "rubber ducky" explanations for why your villain is a villain. Lots of people lose their parents. They don't all turn into movie villains.

                (As in, "somebody took his rubber ducky away from him as a kid, and that's why he's a serial killer.")

                I think it's good that you have a deep understanding of who your antagonist is, that you can imagine the movie from his point of view. That will all help your villain be more three dimensional and real.

                But that doesn't mean the audience needs to know all that stuff. You should give it to the audience only when they need it. Also be very careful about POV. Often you want to restrict POV tightly to your hero and only break it for a strong, specific reason.

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                • #9
                  Re: Help with Antagonist Background in the story structure

                  To @Ronaldinho and @evan_g

                  I will detail the story of the vilain a bit to understand why I want to show those things:

                  He is not necessary a villain. It sounds paradoxically, I know.
                  He became a person who sees no meaning in life and other stuff as i said, because of the loss of his family. But he didn't become a villain here. He just got the nihilist way of thinking.

                  He "became a villain" when someone tried to kill him and his friend. He escaped, but his friend was killed.

                  Before dying his friend wanted him to promise He will stop/catch the ones that were guilty for this. From there on he became a villain although his way of living was and still is more nihilistic(neutral)than "villain - type"

                  Now, to take revenge, he systematically starts to kill the ones who killed his friend. This is where the protagonist -- a CIA agent appears and tries to catch him, but, by the end of the Act 2/beginning of Act 3, they both become allies against the ones who killed his friend. Dual protagonists against an even bigger threat.
                  That's why I want the audience to empathize with both -- the protagonist and the antagonist. That's why I want to create a solid background for the antagonist, too.

                  I think of getting rid or at least showing just a few things from his family tragedy(just a sentence or two when someone -- maybe him -- speaks about that)and show more from his and his friend tragedy.

                  It's a kinda stupid approach, if you ask me

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                  • #10
                    Re: Help with Antagonist Background in the story structure

                    Originally posted by BrainDestroyer303 View Post
                    To @Ronaldinho and @evan_g

                    I will detail the story of the vilain a bit to understand why I want to show those things:

                    He is not necessary a villain. It sounds paradoxically, I know.
                    He became a person who sees no meaning in life and other stuff as i said, because of the loss of his family. But he didn't become a villain here. He just got the nihilist way of thinking.

                    He "became a villain" when someone tried to kill him and his friend. He escaped, but his friend was killed.

                    Before dying his friend wanted him to promise He will stop/catch the ones that were guilty for this. From there on he became a villain although his way of living was and still is more nihilistic(neutral)than "villain - type"

                    Now, to take revenge, he systematically starts to kill the ones who killed his friend. This is where the protagonist -- a CIA agent appears and tries to catch him, but, by the end of the Act 2/beginning of Act 3, they both become allies against the ones who killed his friend. Dual protagonists against an even bigger threat.
                    That's why I want the audience to empathize with both -- the protagonist and the antagonist. That's why I want to create a solid background for the antagonist, too.

                    I think of getting rid or at least showing just a few things from his family tragedy(just a sentence or two when someone -- maybe him -- speaks about that)and show more from his and his friend tragedy.

                    It's a kinda stupid approach, if you ask me
                    It sounds to me like your antagonist is actually your protagonist.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Help with Antagonist Background in the story structure

                      Originally posted by evan_g View Post
                      It sounds to me like your antagonist is actually your protagonist.
                      I like him more than the protagonist,yes, but I want him to be the antagonist. Maybe I should limit his past story and focus on just his personality.
                      I have past stories for both -- protagonist and antagonist, but I like the antagonist more.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Help with Antagonist Background in the story structure

                        Originally posted by BrainDestroyer303 View Post
                        I like him more than the protagonist,yes, but I want him to be the antagonist. Maybe I should limit his past story and focus on just his personality.
                        I have past stories for both -- protagonist and antagonist, but I like the antagonist more.
                        If he's driving the story, then he's the protagonist. The antagonist's goal blocks the protag's goal. A lot of the time the villain is the most interesting character because we ask ourselves why does he do such terrible things? This is not necessary for the morally correct character. Hannibal Lechter is the most interesting character in Silence of the Lambs but he's not the protagonist, Clarice Starling is. She drives the narrative.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Help with Antagonist Background in the story structure

                          Originally posted by BrainDestroyer303 View Post
                          Let's say I have an antagonist with a sad past(his parents have died. Later, his sister has died, too). How shall I write those events in flashbacks:

                          a) spread flashbacks: write a part of it(like a scene or two) at, let's say, page 18, another scene about his past at the page 22, another at the page 40 and so on or:

                          b) continuous flashback: write an entire sequence(5 - 10 min.) with the entire sad past at, let's say, page 25-30 or even later at the page 40-50?
                          IMITATION GAME uses flashbacks as per a)

                          CASABLANCA uses flashbacks as per b)

                          KILL BILL uses b) to show O-Ren Ishii's backstory. It sounds like this is what you're trying to do.
                          Story Structure 1
                          Story Structure 2
                          Story Structure 3

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Help with Antagonist Background in the story structure

                            Originally posted by blue439 View Post
                            If he's driving the story, then he's the protagonist. The antagonist's goal blocks the protag's goal. A lot of the time the villain is the most interesting character because we ask ourselves why does he do such terrible things? This is not necessary for the morally correct character. Hannibal Lechter is the most interesting character in Silence of the Lambs but he's not the protagonist, Clarice Starling is. She drives the narrative.
                            Hannibal Lechter isn't the Antagonist either. Buffalo Bill is the Antagonist. Hannibal Lechter is the mentor character. He is the character that Clarice has to go to to learn from.

                            Depending on the story, the "mentor" is not always a benign character.

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