Linking Your Hero to Your Villain

Your villain has a goal that has nothing to do with your hero. Your hero also has a goal that has nothing to do with the villain. Somehow you have to link your hero to your villain so their worlds collide.

Initially, your hero is stuck in a dead-end life and your villain is busy pursuing a goal that will cause Horrible Consequences should it succeed. At this point, your hero has no idea who your villain is and vice versa.

What you must do within the first 15 minutes of your screenplay is link your hero to your villain’s world. This link represents the first step to forcing the hero into the villain’s world.

In “Die Hard,” this initial link is when Bruce Willis arrives at his wife’s Christmas party, which is the same party the terrorists will take over.

In “WALL-E,” this link occurs when WALL-E finds a plant. At first, we don’t know the significance of this plant, but it becomes clear later on.

In “Star Wars,” this link is when Luke’s uncle buys C3PO and R2D2.

In “Avatar,” this link is when Jake (the hero) first sees the avatar body that he’ll be inhabiting.

As early as possible, you must introduce a link that will gradually draw your hero into your villain’s world. If you thrust your hero into the villain’s world too abruptly, it will feel forced and phony, so you must do it gradually, which makes it feel more realistic.

Initially, we may not understand the full significance of this link, but its importance will become clearer as the story progresses. Omit this crucial link and your hero has no reason to battle your villain, hence you won’t have a story. Look for this crucial link in the first 15 minutes of your favorite movie and make sure you put it in your own screenplay. This initial link eventually thrusts the hero into a new world.

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