Juxtaposing in Writing

by
Donald L. Vasicek

Juxtaposing in writing and screenwriting is most effective if you think in terms of what film is. Film is a visual medium. Therefore, the writer/screenwriter must write visually. Writing visually includes striving to “show” rather than “tell” the story and the characters. The most powerful way to do this is to utilize the mingling of opposites or a dichotomy.

For example, if you have a character who represents evil in your story, then juxtaposing your “hero” or main character in your story to this kind of “villain” [in fiction, villains do not have any redeeming characteristics while the antagonist in your story should have, at least, 1 redeeming characteristic) should represent good, the opposite of evil, and thus, a dichotomy.

In summary, the most effective use of juxtaposing in movies, is what is totally opposite of each other, whether that is characters, objects, locations, etc. This kind of juxtaposing creates conflict, and in fiction, if there is no conflict, there is no drama, and the resulting effect of that is a flat story with no energy. Some would call this kind of story/film/movie, boring.

I hope this is of help to you.

Best Regards,
Don Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC/The Zen of Writing

http://www.donvasicek.com

“The Protagonist’s Journey”

In Robert Kosberg’s “How to Sell Your Idea to Hollywood”,
he discusses some of Chris Volger’s ideas on Joseph
Campbell’s “The Hero With a Thousand Faces.”

Volger’s outline shows, and what many movie studios
urge their readers to understand, the steps of a
protagonist (the classic Hollywood-hero-type) should
take.

In Act 1:

Step 1, is the protagonist’s ordinary world which will
contrast sharply with the strange new world he/she will
be entering.

Step 2, is the call to adventure where the hero is
presented with a problem or challenge that will
change his/her destiny. This sets up and demands
that he attain a specific goal.

In Step 3, the “reluctant” hero experiences fear
of the unknown or fear of outside forces. The
hero hasn’t completely committed to the
mission. Whatever the fear is, this will land the
hero in a state of no return.

Step 4, is where a mentor gives guidance and
support to the hero. The purpose of the mentor
is to assist the hero in his/her transition to the
other world.

In Step 5, the adventure gets going; the first time
the hero has fully made the decision to accept
the challenge. It is usually the turning point into
Act II.

Step 6 is when new challenges arise as the hero
learns the rules of the other world. He/she
encounters both favorable and unfavorable
consequences of his decision to act.

In Step 7, the hero comes to a dangerous place;
the villain’s den or the arena where he/she will
find the object of his/her quest. This can also
be the hero’s moment of truth.

The Supreme Ordeal is Step 8 where the hero
hits rock bottom and all appears to be lost.
This often marks the second part of Act II and
can be the appearance of what the hero realizes
he/she fears most.

In Step 9, the hero having barely survived, takes
possession of the prize he/she has been seeking. Now,
he/she must apply his/her wisdom or power before he/she can
travel back to safety.

The hero deals with the consequences of having
seized the prize in Step 10. Hostile forces will be
confronted and it is at this stage that the hero
will proclaim his/her desire to bring the journey to an
end and return to the ordinary world.

The resurrection marks Step 11 and Act III where the
evil forces are given one last opportunity before
being defeated. Transformed, the hero will triumph
and return to his/her ordinary life changed by some new
insight.

In coming back, Step 12, he/she brings a token of his
journey, a prize or a lesson or he/she is doomed to repeat
his dangerous adventure. Because of this possession,
the hero’s ordinary world as he once knew it, is
changed by his/her new knowledge.

These steps can be seen in “The African Queen”,
“The Hurt Locker”, “Star Wars”, “Crazy Heart”,
“Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Chinatown”, “E. T.”,
“Romancing the Stone”, “Witness”, “The Hunt for
Red October”, “Aladdin”, “High Noon”, and a host
other movies.