Frustrated Intention – the bedfellow of Drama?

November 11, 2021
Bob Eckhard

Okay, so where are we with the scene template?

So far we have looked at INT/EXT which is the balance of interior and exterior scenes throughout the screenplay.

Then we focused on ensuring the protagonist featured in the majority of these scenes because – after all – it is their story.

Next, we considered how there should be a ‘see-saw’ effect between the emotional highs and lows from one scene to the next.

Before considering how every scene should provide the opportunity for  ‘Conflict’ or –  at the very least –  the ‘promise of conflict’ in the screenplay.

In this post, we will consider the knotty aspect of the hero’s INTENTION in the scene – or put another way: what does the protagonist want to happen?

And can I say here that frustrated INTENTION is the bedfellow of DRAMA. Imagine the following scenario:-


The hero attempts to rescue her boyfriend (INT) from the kidnappers only to discover they left their lair in a car a few minutes before she arrived  – DRAMA! (Will she find him?)

Later, she spots the car and waits for the men to exit to see where they go (INT) but then loses kidnappers (and boyfriend) in traffic – DRAMA! (Is he lost forever?).

She returns to search the kidnapper’s lair with the intention of talking to the aggressive bouncer (INT) who threatens her to leave or face consequences – DRAMA (she’s in danger?)

Unaware that she is a black belt in karate, the bouncer attacks her and is beaten to a pulp. Torturing him, he tells her where the gang have gone – (DRAMA – her search is back on!)

(and so on…)


Q) What does this mean in practice?

A) Make sure the HERO’S INTENTION is continually FRUSTRATED. What she wants, she seldom gets because her proactive approach results in conflict that sends either her running or the antagonist.

It will be a very short story if the hero arrests the kidnappers in the first minute and takes him/her to jail. So make sure your protagonist is FRUSTRATED in their quest throughout the story – sometimes winning, other times losing.

Til next time….write in ways that will frustrate your protagonist and not the audience!

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