Antagonism & Antagonists
“A protagonist and his story can only be as intellectually fascinating and emotionally compelling as the forces of antagonism make them” (317 McKee). “What will bring a dead screenplay to life? The answer to both questions lies on the negative side of the story. The more powerful and complex the forces of antagonism opposing the character, the more completely realized character and story must become. ‘Forces of antagonism’ doesn't necessarily refer to a specific antagonist or villain” (317 McKee).
That having been said, if you do write with a villain, remember that they are “heroes of their own stories. Keep in mind that while some villains or Shadows exult in being bad, many don't think of themselves as evil at all. In their own minds they are right, the heroes of their own stories. A dark moment for the hero is a bright one for a Shadow. The arcs of their stories are mirror images: When the hero is up, the villain is down. It depends on point of view. By the time you are done writing a screenplay or novel, you should know your characters well enough that you can tell the story from the point of view of everyone: heroes, villains, sidekicks, lovers, allies, guardians, and lesser folk” (Vogler 165).
“In story. we concentrate on that moment. and only that moment. in which a character takes an action expecting a useful reaction from his world, but instead the effect of his action is to provoke forces of antagonism. The world of the character reacts differently than expected, more powerfully than expected, or both” (McKee 144-145). “This reaction from his world blocks his desire, thwarting him and bending him further from his desire than he was before he took this action. Rather than evoking cooperation from his world, his action provokes forces of antagonism that open up the gap between his subjective expectation and the objective result, between what he thought would happen when he took his action and what in fact does happen between his sense of probability and true necessity” (McKee 148).
“Begin by identifying the primary value at stake in your story. For example, Justice. Generally, the protagonist will represent the positive charge of this value; the forces of antagonism, the negative” (319 McKee).