Screenplay Writing: The Power Rule

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The Power Rule is something I have developed myself after years and years of watching Science Fiction, Fantasy and Action Films. The Power Rules is basically an objective rank of the characters based on fights, special abilities and actions of the characters.

So for example when Darth Vader beats Luke Skywalker in a duel in Empire, it establishes Darth Vader as a stronger character. This is very important because had Luke won this battle, we would not be worried the next time Luke and Vader fight in Jedi.

Another way to use the Power Rule is to give your audience the fight they really want. For example building up a mentor character like Dumbledore as “the strongest wizard” and then finally show him fight Voldemort, considered the most powerful dark lord.

Fights are not the only way to show character’s power. Small displays such as Darth Vader force choking his minions shows off his special abilities and builds up his threat in our mind. These things are very important because having villains with higher power rankings raises the stakes. For example if we know that the heroes will win because they are so much more powerful, then we won’t worry about them.

The best way to organize characters power is by showing a villain that starts out much stronger than our hero but through help from a mentor and battling minions to reach a point where they offer a fair fight.

THE FOLLOWING MAY CONTAINS VERY MILD STAR WARS FORCE AWAKENS SPOILERS!!!! 

The reason I am writing this article is due to my frustration with the end fight scene in the snowy woods.  Unfortunately the fight that occur the forest leads the audience to believe that Kylo Ren is actually very weak despite using the whole rest of the movie to set him up as a power villain. It may be hard for the sequels to convince me to be scared of Kylo Ren.

SPOILERS END

So in conclusion, It’s very important to keep in mind how your portraying your character’s strength in your films and stories. Correctly protraying strength of your villains and heroes can lead to great tension, higher stakes and new plot points.