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-   -   Fatal Flaw? (http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/showthread.php?t=54124)

jonpiper 04-07-2010 10:21 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JeffLowell (Post 633891)
If you think that making the main character not have the major story goal will make your story richer (or more salable), I will respectfully disagree.

And, again, what you're saying about Laszlo isn't correct. He shows up and asks for the letters. Next, Ilsa comes alone and asks for them. Then Laszlo comes back and asks Rick to take Ilsa and the letters and get her to safety. Then Rick uses the letters to send Laszlo and Ilsa to safety.

So your protagonist asks once for the letters the whole movie. That's pursuing the story goal?

No wonder that movie sucks.

So, the movie sucks. That's what happens when the director can't handle a separate protag and main character.;)

At least we've narrowed the argument to the story goal and the main character's goal/goals.

Laszlo spends the whole second act trying to get the letters. Not a lot of screen time, but don't forget this is not who the story is about.

Rick gets the letters and spends the second act deciding what to do with them. What is his goal?

Karma says the story goal is Rick's goal is the protection of the woman Rick loves.

True this becomes one of Rick's goals, but not the story goal. This goal is not born until late in the second act.

Laszlo came to Casablanca on his way to America. He was supposed to buy letters of transmit from Ugarte but these letters ended up with Rick by the end of Act 1. Rick hides them, not knowing what he will do with them.

Ilsa comes into the picture. Rick still doesn't know what to do with the letters. Rick still doesn't know what he wants to do with Ilsa at that point.

billmarq 04-08-2010 02:54 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
You are deranged. Sorry.

The goal was for Rick to resolve his relationship with Ilsa. He accomplishhed that, although not in the manner he originally desired. He chose a "higher" path. Pay attention to the backstory. Rick's altruism was resurrected when he was finally able to cope with Ilsa's leaving him when he realized she truly loved him.

This movie could easily have been written without Laszlo even appearing and nothing would change. He presence was only instrumental to the plot by re-inforcing Ilsa's motives. Better to see the man rather than just talk about him, right?

Rick is the protaganist. Any other choice is bunk.

It's the old inner goal/outer goal thing.

reddery 04-08-2010 05:49 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by billmarq (Post 633960)
It's the old inner goal/outer goal thing.

there is also a Role Reversal that goes on. The backstory of Ilsa leaving Rick is that she was protecting him from being considered a conspirator.

these contridictions ask questions like, were they really in love?

End of Act one, she lets him go (train scene)
End of Act Three, he lets her go (plane scene)

His letter of transit was her leaving him.

zenplato 04-08-2010 06:05 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Hey Reddery, great to see you back.

Hope all is going well for you back in LA...take care bro!

Now, if we could only get Road Warrior and Writerly back on the board to comment on this thread, :).

jonpiper 04-08-2010 11:43 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by billmarq (Post 633960)
You are deranged. Sorry.

The goal was for Rick to resolve his relationship with Ilsa. He accomplishhed that, although not in the manner he originally desired. He chose a "higher" path. Pay attention to the backstory. Rick's altruism was resurrected when he was finally able to cope with Ilsa's leaving him when he realized she truly loved him.

This movie could easily have been written without Laszlo even appearing and nothing would change. He presence was only instrumental to the plot by re-inforcing Ilsa's motives. Better to see the man rather than just talk about him, right?

Rick is the protaganist. Any other choice is bunk.

It's the old inner goal/outer goal thing.

Quote:

Originally Posted by reddery (Post 633974)
there is also a Role Reversal that goes on. The backstory of Ilsa leaving Rick is that she was protecting him from being considered a conspirator.

these contridictions ask questions like, were they really in love?

End of Act one, she lets him go (train scene)
End of Act Three, he lets her go (plane scene)

His letter of transit was her leaving him.

Deranged! Billmarq, give me a break.

You say, "The goal was for Rick to resolve his relationship with Ilsa."

If that was the story goal, it should have been established by the protag by the end of Act 1. Right? It took quite a while into Act 2, before Rick could even think about that. I'm arguing that Rick is the main character in Casablanca. Rick's goals and struggle are what the story is really about, even though his goals are not the story goal.

On the other hand, Laszlo's goal (to get the letters) was established at or near the end of Act 1. This goal is not what the story is really about, but it is the Protag's goal. A neat, tidy goal for a Protag.

Think of it this way. The story goal in Casablanca, Laszlo's goal, provides the throughline for the story. Above this undercurrent, is the real story. Rick struggles with his memories and love for Ilsa and his other issues.

The protag and main character are usually the same character. In Casablanca they are not. This allows the writers to create a very complex main character, a character without a neat goal that drives him through the Second Act. Rick is a character whose character is slowly revealed throughout the second act.

That's the beauty of separating the protag and main character when the story warrents it.

JeffLowell 04-08-2010 12:02 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Labeling the person who wants the MacGuffin the "protagonist," even though the word has a very different, very established meaning, is just weird. I'm sorry.

By that logic, Gollem is the protag of LOTR. The ring is the story device that propels the entire movie. Frodo hates the thing and wishes he were rid of it. Gollem is more active in his pursuit than Laszlo is with the letters. Without Gollem, the ring never makes it to Mt Doom. Hell, without Gollem, it doesn't go in the fire - Frodo had decided to keep it. Gollem is the last person to hold the ring - he ends up with it, not Frodo. Gollem is Laszlo.

This theory is bonkers. The MacGuffin is not the movie.

instant_karma 04-08-2010 12:12 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Okay, maybe I'm showing my lack of experience here, but what is this 'story goal' thing that is now being discussed?

With specific reference to movies (since novels are a whole other beast, even if you sell/own software that claims to help you outline both forms) I would have thought the story's goal would be to entertain or provoke thought in it's audience.

Is story goal a widely used term when discussing movies in Hollywood, or is this another invention of Dramatica to address a problem that screenwriters have mysteriously managed to work around in the decades before the software hit the market?

JimHull 04-08-2010 02:00 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
The Goal of a story is the one thing that will overcome the problems affecting everyone in a story. The goal, or purpose, of any piece of fiction sits outside of the world of the story itself. This may be to entertain, or to provoke, or to incite laughter, or to simply relay some information. When speaking of the Story Goal in regards to the structure of a story, this is something that exists because of the need to solve a problem.

The Inciting Incident occurs, balance is upset, and the Goal, if successfully achieved will right this inequity. While each character may have his or her own personal goals, there is always one central goal that everyone is attached to. This goal, and the efforts to achieve it represent the author's logical argument surrounding the problem at hand.

In every complete story there is also an emotional argument going on that correlates with this logical "objective" one, and this emotional argument is where it seems everyone involved in this discussion is focusing their attention. This is because this part of the argument was written with more emphasis in the case of "Casablanca" and it is the part most hold dear. This does not discount the fact that the logical argument still exists. You need to have both for a story to feel complete. The dissonance between the two creates the meaning.

The letters of transit are not simply a plot device to get the ball rolling. Everyone in "Casablanca" is concerned with these letters, and it is in fact their actions or lack of action towards these letters that argues the logical side of the author's message. Ugarte has (or had) his own nefarious plans for them, Laszlo and Ilsa want them, the refugees will do anything for them (even sleep with Renault if they have to), Strasser wants them returned, Ferrari offers to buy them, and so on. Everyone has their own selfish interests at heart when it comes to these letters and it is this selfishness that creates the problems in the world of "Casablanca." Overcoming that selfishness is the key towards achieving the Story's Goal.

The mechanism that drives stories in film is the same that drives stories in novels or in plays. Why? Because the intended recipients of the messages delivered through those formats all have the same receiving device -- their brain. The Dramatica theory of story is the only "paradigm" that accounts for all these formats without caveats. It is why you'll find that it accurately describes what is going on in "To Kill A Mockingbird" as well as in "Hamlet" as well as in "Casablanca." Story is story regardless of the medium.

billmarq 04-08-2010 05:19 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
My last word on the subject -

Saying Laszlo is the protag in Casablanca is like saying that mustard is the main ingredient of a hamburger.

If you don't agree, watch the film again.

Thank you.

MrEarbrass 04-08-2010 05:45 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JimHull (Post 634096)
The Dramatica theory of story is the only "paradigm" that accounts for all these formats without caveats. It is why you'll find that it accurately describes what is going on in "To Kill A Mockingbird" as well as in "Hamlet" as well as in "Casablanca." Story is story regardless of the medium.

This reminds me of literary criticism. People come up with all sorts of grand all-encompassing theories, and in their enthusiasm to prove that they have come up with an artistic version of e=mc2 they are forced into all sort of rhetorical gymnastics. The result is that people end up arguing about terms and definitions rather than focusing on what ought to be the heart of literary criticism--the work itself.

So I guess that's my question: why do you feel a need to try and force "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Casablanca" into a paradigm? Is it helpful for your own writing? I would think that any theory that leads you so far afield that you're misidentifying protagonists and redefining story goals would be an obstacle to writing a story that resonates outside of a computer program. The Epstein brothers somehow managed to write something great in the era before Dramatica--and they did it by focusing on human relationships. Specifically the relationships between their protagonist (hint, he owned a bar) and the characters around him.


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