Why You Should Write Your Antagonist Before Your Protagonist

Most screenwriters construct their stories from the protagonist’s (hero) point of view, and consequently write them first.

Villains (antagonists) represent evil, while your hero represents goodness in screenwriting. Your audience will sympathise with your protagonist to a greater extent if they have an equally (or more) powerful antagonist to battle. This represents the darkness and the light that humanity faces every day. Dealing with negative aspects of our lives makes audiences appreciate a well crafted antagonist.

Antagonists are the dark mirror of protagonists

In some respects, your antagonist should be the most complex character in your screenplay. They are the antithesis of your protagonist. They expose their fears, weaknesses and is a constant source of conflict. Without a strong antagonist, the protagonist has nobody to test them. Nobody to learn from. Nobody to help them realize their hidden power or deal with their flaws.

That is why your antagonist must be a worthy adversary and will bring out the best and worst in your main character. Given that your main character reacts to and makes choices based on what the villain does, it makes sense to write villains first.

Writing your antagonist before the protagonist adds a new dimension to your writing style, because it’s something most writers don’t do organically. It changes the focus of your storytelling and consequently stimulates creativity.

By crafting a truly nefarious villain who ensures the hero is put in the worst possible situations, you ultimately create better stories. If your villain is flat, weak and umotivated, your protagonist will easily overcome the obstacles they put in front of them and eventually disengage your audience.

The villain is the devil’s advocate and forces the protagonist to view the situation from the opposing point of view. They are forced to become resourceful, innovative and solution-oriented.

In closing, better antagonists create better protagonists.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. wvisher says:

    I will try this on a couple of stories I am working on. Thanks for the perspective.

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