Thursday, January 28, 2010

BOOK CLUB: Villains & Universality (Ch. 22)

[Today we're reading Ch. 22 Move Your Audience by Teaching Them What They Already Know, from Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters, by Michael Tierno (2002).]

The author writes, "Pity, fear, and catharsis come not from learning new esoteric facts but from a
RE-cognition of what one ALREADY thinks and feels. P.109.

I re-learned this lesson yesterday when I covered a graphic novel with a horror story. Interestingly, it wasn't being submitted for the story itself, but to perhaps be made into another movie using one of the villains.

I recognized this villain as the familiar & evil bad guy. However, I didn't feel fear or pity for him, nor did I want to follow his story.

What could the writer have done to pique my interest? I've thought long & hard about this (mostly b/c I'm struggling with the same thing in my own script).

I think the scariest thing about good villains are that they're usually normal people with warped agendas. They have kids, they have bills, they bleed, they're kind to old ladies and dogs. That's why they're scary - they could be us on a really, really bad day.

But in this story, the villain is so obviously bad all the time that there's not even a glimmer of hope for redemption. I don't even want to identify with him or rescue him. He's someone I can too easily give up on.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED: I need a villain that pushes me to agree his side of the story could actually be the better one.

[DISCLAIMER: I have not been asked, nor paid, to read or comment on this book.]

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