Alternatives, or opposites, are perhaps the single most important aspect of a character's make-
up. The use of opposites heightens character traits. Without intermittent valleys to establish
that they are indeed peaks, sustained peaks become plateaus. Plateaus become monotonous and tend
to erase the traits the writer had intended to establish. A character who is vehemently angry
throughout the story becomes extremely difficult to watch. His behavior no longer means anger to
the reader/viewer, it just annoys him.
- punctuating an angry man's tirades with laughter, or puzzled wonder, or quiet serenity, makes
his rageful eruptions even more scary
- giving a jovial man dark brooding moments heightens the ups
- making a courageous soldier tremble for one moment in the story makes him seem more brave when
he needs to be
- tossing a little levity into a seriously patriotic speech helps relay the message
For a bit of surprise, a character can be set up in one direction throughout the movie, then, at a
critical point in the story, behave in a manner completely at odds with his purported nature.
Actors will be more inclined to perform characters, directors more desirous of directing
characters, and readers/viewers more likely to be fascinated by characters who have distinct
opposites. A script already written can be enhanced greatly by going through and giving
characters opposites where they might not have had them before.
Humor may result . . .
- as an executioner raises up his axe we see he's wearing pink rabbit slippers
- a minister of God slips into a porn shop
- a professional wrestler cries at a mawkishly romantic movie
- a dainty woman in high heels karate chops a mugger
A recently popular U.S. television show used character opposites to great effect, both in making a lovable
character, and in making a character an actor loved to play--something any screenwriter should want.