Sunday, July 25, 2010

A new improved "Bad Guy"

I just had an amazing week. My antagonist is totally re-worked, humanized and fleshed out, and I cant believe how much energy it's added to the story.

It was always going to be tricky working out the King of Jericho - someone we know very little about. On the surface, he simply defended his city from an invader. Simple enough - so why is he the bad guy?

One of the underlying themes of this story is the clash between judgment and mercy, law and faith, pride and grace. So I had to build his character around those foundations. In essence, he had to be the anti-hero, the exact opposite of Joshua - who Joshua would become if he didn't conquer his inner demons.

So in the end, its all about theme, and characters that support the theme. A well written screenplay or novel ends up become something like poetry - its so well rounded and tight that you couldn't imagine it any other way. Like Rudyard Kipling's "If" poem, tinker with it at your peril - it's perfect poem, based on a consistent theme that speaks to so many people (men obviously).

So who is this King of Jericho? Here's a quote from my rewrite this week:

Elam nodded and paced slowly around the room, carefully considering what to say. “Judge a man by what he does, not what he says - especially when he has something to lose. You’ve alway had a thing for Rahab. I just want to be certain you’re not in this with her.”

“You want me to do it?” asked Giddel.

“Power has a price. You make choices, and your choices make you. I don’t care how you do it. Enjoy her for one last time if you wish, but before Joshua attacks you must kill her.”

“You think she’s a traitor but you want to show her our biggest secret?”

“At least she’ll know I”ll win this war. Whatever faith she has will die before you kill her.”

“What if she’s innocent?”

“There is no innocent or guilty, just power!” Elam ranted. “There’s no God. No judgment. There are just the strong and the weak, an end and a means. So we lose a whore? They are plenty more in this world.”

He's Machievelli, Hitler and Nietzche rolled into one. Now he is worthy of judgment.

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