“We only love our story as much as we love our protagonist.”
Our goal today was to talk about our protagonists and how to craft them in such a way that our audience loves them even more. Michael started out the class talking about the protagonist in the movie Captain Phillips, which we were to have read and watched as homework.
As we dissected the bones of this movie script, the half of the class that went to see the movie the previous weekend were bummed that some integral parts of the skeleton were missing, especially when it came to our beloved protagonist, Captain Phillps played by Tom Hanks.
Michael then went over how we as writers can make our protagonists lovable–how their actions show who they are, how they should have flaws because we are flawed people and can identify with them, and through well-written dialogue.
But the main thing that I took away from this class was this: Kick your protagonist while he’s down. And if he gets up, knock him down again.
Basically, my main character will be good at something. And as the screenwriter, I’m supposed to throw the opposite at them, to challenge them.
And how do I do that?
“The stronger your antagonist, the better the story.”
Aha! So through my bad guy I challenge my good guy.
We then discussed how we can make our antagonist powerful as possible, and how we saw that play out in Captain Phillips.
Ack! I realize that conflict and challenge and the protagonist getting knocked down is the key to a good story, but I hate conflict. I love my happy endings, but I am starting to realize that all my favorite happy-ending movies also have a lot of roadblocks in the way of my hero before he can get to his happy ending.
I guess I gotta get used to being mean to my good guy.