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

TwoBrad Bradley 04-08-2010 04:48 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
I get that everyone wants the letters - even Rick.

But I don't see how Laszlo's reasons (and actions) for getting the letters make him different enough to be considered the protagonist.

The backdrop is a world where Letters of Transit are a valuable commodity.

There's a story objective - who will get the letters.
There's a protagonist objective - who will get the girl.

Often the protagonist's objective must be set aside until the story objective is resolved. Often the two are resolved at the same time.

Rick is the one with the thematic change.
Laszlo is a saint throughout the story.

SuperScribe 04-08-2010 04:55 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by billmarq (Post 634162)
Saying Laszlo is the protag in Casablanca is like saying that mustard is the main ingredient of a hamburger.

No, the hamburger is the main ingredient; the mustard is the one that wants the McMuffin.

JimHull 04-08-2010 05:42 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
To address MrEarbrass:

I don't feel compelled to force "Mockingbird" or "Casablanca" into any paradigm. The OP expressed confusion because he was trying to write a story where the Main Character was not the one driving the efforts towards solving the story's central goal. He was told his problem was that he was trying to write a story where the Main Character wasn't the Protagonist. There have been several great meaningful stories that have been written where this "rule" isn't the case.

I use the Dramatica theory's understanding of story because it explains why this previously held belief is wrong. As far as forcing these stories into boxes, they actually "fit in" quite nicely without any effort. As do "Hamlet", "Romeo and Juliet", "The Godfather", "Amadeus" and so on. If the theory is accurate, then there should be no need to bend its concepts, as is often the case with Hero's Journey or Save the Cat! paradigms.

As far as needing a computer to write, the theory stands on its own without the intervention of any program. I'm not trying to sell a particular system as much as I'm using its understanding to communicate why stories work the way they do. The software only exists as a tool to help writers keep the contexts of their story consistent. You certainly don't need it to write well, as your example of the Epstein brothers proves.

However, I will say that I find it to be extremely helpful in writing as it clearly surpasses previous understandings of story. It goes beyond "willful protagonists" and "Dark Night of the Soul" moments to describe WHY those concepts exist and then gives you a mountain of possibilities from which to expand upon. It doesn't pretend to make things easier, and it shouldn't -- writing a meaningful story is a complicated beautiful endeavor that at the very least, should require some deeper thought and understanding.

reddery 04-08-2010 11:57 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by zenplato (Post 633977)
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, :).

what would happen if all of us got real lives... or sold scripts?

if someone writes a post and we're not here to read it, is there really a question posted?

reddery 04-09-2010 12:05 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JeffLowell (Post 634049)
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.

Leave it up to Lowell to use a childrens story as an example

reddery 04-09-2010 12:17 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by billmarq (Post 634162)
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.

now a food analogy!

Quote:

Thank you.
welcome

reddery 04-09-2010 12:53 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jonpiper (Post 634039)
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.

Be hard to agrue that Laslo is the protagonist becase of how the movie ends. There is no hollywood cheap explosion or child like tear jerking moment...

it's just melancholy scene.

I'd argue that if Laslo was the protagonist there would be a bunch lame stuff, like a newspaper saying the 'war is over!' or a race to get to the airport -- with a final scene of Laso and Ilsa in a romantic embrace

BrosHarrow 04-09-2010 03:38 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JimHull (Post 634179)
To address MrEarbrass:

I don't feel compelled to force "Mockingbird" or "Casablanca" into any paradigm. The OP expressed confusion because he was trying to write a story where the Main Character was not the one driving the efforts towards solving the story's central goal. He was told his problem was that he was trying to write a story where the Main Character wasn't the Protagonist. There have been several great meaningful stories that have been written where this "rule" isn't the case.

I use the Dramatica theory's understanding of story because it explains why this previously held belief is wrong. As far as forcing these stories into boxes, they actually "fit in" quite nicely without any effort. As do "Hamlet", "Romeo and Juliet", "The Godfather", "Amadeus" and so on. If the theory is accurate, then there should be no need to bend its concepts, as is often the case with Hero's Journey or Save the Cat! paradigms.

As far as needing a computer to write, the theory stands on its own without the intervention of any program. I'm not trying to sell a particular system as much as I'm using its understanding to communicate why stories work the way they do. The software only exists as a tool to help writers keep the contexts of their story consistent. You certainly don't need it to write well, as your example of the Epstein brothers proves.

However, I will say that I find it to be extremely helpful in writing as it clearly surpasses previous understandings of story. It goes beyond "willful protagonists" and "Dark Night of the Soul" moments to describe WHY those concepts exist and then gives you a mountain of possibilities from which to expand upon. It doesn't pretend to make things easier, and it shouldn't -- writing a meaningful story is a complicated beautiful endeavor that at the very least, should require some deeper thought and understanding.

THIS IS EXACTLY what is going on my script. The main character, isn't the one who will solve the central goal or dilemma, it is a secondary main character we meet in the second half of the film. Crafting a logline is incredibly difficult because it doesn't appeal to the standard formula.

Any advice on this matter will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

Harrow

MrEarbrass 04-09-2010 02:17 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JimHull (Post 634179)
To address MrEarbrass:

I don't feel compelled to force "Mockingbird" or "Casablanca" into any paradigm. The OP expressed confusion because he was trying to write a story where the Main Character was not the one driving the efforts towards solving the story's central goal. He was told his problem was that he was trying to write a story where the Main Character wasn't the Protagonist. There have been several great meaningful stories that have been written where this "rule" isn't the case.

I use the Dramatica theory's understanding of story because it explains why this previously held belief is wrong. As far as forcing these stories into boxes, they actually "fit in" quite nicely without any effort. As do "Hamlet", "Romeo and Juliet", "The Godfather", "Amadeus" and so on. If the theory is accurate, then there should be no need to bend its concepts, as is often the case with Hero's Journey or Save the Cat! paradigms.

As far as needing a computer to write, the theory stands on its own without the intervention of any program. I'm not trying to sell a particular system as much as I'm using its understanding to communicate why stories work the way they do. The software only exists as a tool to help writers keep the contexts of their story consistent. You certainly don't need it to write well, as your example of the Epstein brothers proves.

However, I will say that I find it to be extremely helpful in writing as it clearly surpasses previous understandings of story. It goes beyond "willful protagonists" and "Dark Night of the Soul" moments to describe WHY those concepts exist and then gives you a mountain of possibilities from which to expand upon. It doesn't pretend to make things easier, and it shouldn't -- writing a meaningful story is a complicated beautiful endeavor that at the very least, should require some deeper thought and understanding.

I'm not going to argue with you about your process--if it works for you, great. My point is that your paradigm has led you to some rather odd conclusions about certain major movies and to misidentify--at least to my eye--what makes those movies great.

In my opinion that's the danger of any unified theory, no matter how detailed. I know many working writers, both in screenplays and novels, and very few of them subscribe to any one system. It's like learning how to become a jazz musician; at some point you need to step from scales into something else. That's not to say that scales aren't important--and, to leave the analogy, anything that forces you to ask the questions that will enrich your work can be useful. But I don't think that a system can claim to "clearly surpass previous understandings of story" when it claims that Laszlo is the protagonist of Casablanca or the letters of transit are the story goal. Because that goes way beyond missing the story for the trees...

JimHull 04-09-2010 02:37 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Again, the currently accepted definitions of protagonist and story goal are insufficient when it comes to accurately describing what is going on within a story. I'm not sure exactly how much of this thread you have read, but I have tried on several occasions to explain that I don't think Laszlo is the most important character in the story (which I assume is your definition of protagonist) or that "Casablanca" is about getting some letters of transit. That is certainly one part of it and the goal that everyone in the story is concerned with, but it is not what the story is primarily about.

To: Bros, two things --

One, forget about loglines. You can't communicate the sum total of your story until you have actually written it.

Secondly, the only way your story will work the way you describe is if there is some other character that fills the Protagonist role for the first half -- and by Protagonist I mean the one pursuing the goal that affects everyone. If you don't have this, the story will linger and plod along with little to no narrative drive. Then, at the midpoint in your story, that character will "hand-off" their dramatic function to your secondary main character and you can finish it the way you originally envisioned.

If you want more help, you can contact me on my site @ http://storyfanatic.com/contact or you can just PM me here.

TwoBrad Bradley 04-09-2010 03:17 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Jim, you are correct.

If you (or anybody) "updates" the definition of Protagonist or Main Character then, of course, it will take on a different meaning than what is commonly accepted. Your story analysis will make sense to anyone familiar with the revised definitions. (Casablanca would still be Casablanca.)

The good thing is a writer can write a good screenplay without ever assigning any specific labels to the characters.

The problem is that if you talk about your story there's the great possibility that not everyone would be speaking the same language.

BTW: Did you just update the definition of loglines to now include the sum total of the story?

JimHull 04-09-2010 03:47 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
LOL -- no, I'll start another thread for that :)

jonpiper 04-09-2010 04:54 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
I don't understand Jim's theory/model, its quite complex, something an engineer would devise.:) But I see the benefits of separating the Protagonist and Main character--at times.

When the protagonist and main character are allowed to be two different characters, I think we can be more flexible and creative when developing a story.

The protag and MC can be the same character. It's our story, our choice.

No longer must our main character pursue a single external goal that affects everyone. Our main character, the character who our story is about, the character we will learn the most about, can pursue a variety of internal and external goals as the story progresses.

Meanwhile, another character, call him the protagonist, pursues the story goal and is instrumental in driving the complete story forward as our main character faces all kinds of obstacles not even related to the story goal.

Let's call these characters, what they are.:)

Character 1. Character Who The Story Is About. (Once called the Main Character)

Character A. Character Who Pursues The Goal That Shows Up In Our Logline (Once called the Protagonist)

reddery 04-10-2010 02:56 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Jim

What's your take on The Departed?

billmarq 04-10-2010 10:51 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
What I have learned from personal study of films is that there is no "One Way" to write a story. Compare the timelines and structure of Memento, Hitchcock's Psycho and Magnolia. Each was a successful and popular movie, although not necessarily everyone agrees on their greatness. Each told a story in a unique manner.

We could dissect these films or their respective screenplays and force them into some structure, I suppose, but why? I have to believe that storytelling is an art, not a science.

To the OP: write your story in such a way that it makes sense and entertains.

asjah8 04-10-2010 12:01 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
while i personally don't feel a separation exists, i respect that there are other views with different levels of experience. i'm just not really sure how this helps, rather than hinders, understanding of story dynamics.

i keep imagining the chaos of sending a script off to be reviewed, and the notes come back as: protagonist doesn't arc enough. "well, no, that's my mc, and he arcs just fine. the protagonist is the other guy."

i have followed these boards for awhile, and it seems from my limited view, like there is already a big enough problem in hw, getting us new writers to respect commonly applied aspects of structure...? i don't know, maybe that's on cue or maybe it's overly dramatic. but, really, a common language does have its advantages.

BrosHarrow 04-11-2010 05:47 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jonpiper (Post 634430)
I don't understand Jim's theory/model, its quite complex, something an engineer would devise.:) But I see the benefits of separating the Protagonist and Main character--at times.

When the protagonist and main character are allowed to be two different characters, I think we can be more flexible and creative when developing a story.

The protag and MC can be the same character. It's our story, our choice.

No longer must our main character pursue a single external goal that affects everyone. Our main character, the character who our story is about, the character we will learn the most about, can pursue a variety of internal and external goals as the story progresses.

Meanwhile, another character, call him the protagonist, pursues the story goal and is instrumental in driving the complete story forward as our main character faces all kinds of obstacles not even related to the story goal.

Let's call these characters, what they are.:)

Character 1. Character Who The Story Is About. (Once called the Main Character)

Character A. Character Who Pursues The Goal That Shows Up In Our Logline (Once called the Protagonist)

This my friends, is a sick post.

jonpiper 04-11-2010 06:20 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
In what sense of the word Sick?

BrosHarrow 04-11-2010 06:26 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
As in..."dynamite!"

jonpiper 04-11-2010 06:33 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Thanks, Bros. You had me doubting myself. :) I thought I wasn't clear.

Deion22 12-02-2011 03:05 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Upping for discussion. Who here thinks Frodo is the MC, and Gandalf the protag? And can that situation work successfully in a screenplay?

wcmartell 12-02-2011 03:16 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
What? The definition of protagonist is main character. I am confused.

And where did this thread come from - 27 pages?

- Bill

Deion22 12-02-2011 03:24 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
It's an old thread. People argued that the Protag and the MC can be split in a movie. They used Shawshank Redemption and other movies for examples. I'm curious if other people believe the same. I always thought the MC and Protag were the same until I read this thread. It had me wondering if it's true they can be split or not.

Why One 12-02-2011 04:46 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
The protagonist in the person standing in the middle of the movie poster.

BattleDolphinZero 12-02-2011 07:23 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Deion22 (Post 776500)
It's an old thread. People argued that the Protag and the MC can be split in a movie. They used Shawshank Redemption and other movies for examples. I'm curious if other people believe the same. I always thought the MC and Protag were the same until I read this thread. It had me wondering if it's true they can be split or not.

I believe Pirates uses this model.

The writer said that the chick is the hero/protag and Depp is the Main Character.

Deion22 12-02-2011 07:33 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BattleDolphinZero (Post 776529)
I believe Pirates uses this model.

The writer said that the chick is the hero/protag and Depp is the Main Character.


You bring up a great point about Pirates. That makes sense. Thanks for the insight.

TwoBrad Bradley 12-02-2011 10:09 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TwoBrad Bradley (Post 631722)
And what about Pirates of the Caribbean? Elizabeth is the protagonist while the story is Mainly focused on a different Character.

Hello?

BattleDolphinZero 12-02-2011 10:48 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
you said that years ago, I gave it a fresh voice

TwoBrad Bradley 12-03-2011 11:24 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BattleDolphinZero (Post 776543)
you said that years ago, I gave it a fresh voice

Now that I think about it, your version is truer to the book.

A little cameo would have been nice.

wcmartell 12-03-2011 11:59 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
At the script stage on PIRATES the chick was the protagonist and all three of the men were equals. After casting, that changed.

Casting can change the intent of a story. I have a Script Tip on the movie BASIC - the script had a female lead with a male secondary character who helps her. They cast Travolta as the secondary character and Connie Neilson as the lead... and that turned Travolta into the lead... except his character can not be the lead if the story is going to work. She didn't even make the poster! It ruined the film. Now, you can look at that film and "decide" that Travolta was the lead and she was the protagonist - but that's not how it was at the script stage.

- Bill

NikeeGoddess 12-03-2011 10:15 PM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by wcmartell (Post 776570)
At the script stage on PIRATES the chick was the protagonist and all three of the men were equals. After casting, that changed.

Casting can change the intent of a story. I have a Script Tip on the movie BASIC - the script had a female lead with a male secondary character who helps her. They cast Travolta as the secondary character and Connie Neilson as the lead... and that turned Travolta into the lead... except his character can not be the lead if the story is going to work. She didn't even make the poster! It ruined the film. Now, you can look at that film and "decide" that Travolta was the lead and she was the protagonist - but that's not how it was at the script stage.

- Bill

umm - you just said the film was ruined and you suggest people go see it?! aren't we sure that it was only switched b/c travolta wanted to be the lead... and he had the name?

Richmond Weems 12-04-2011 05:52 AM

Re: Fatal Flaw?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by NikeeGoddess (Post 776617)
umm - you just said the film was ruined and you suggest people go see it?! aren't we sure that it was only switched b/c travolta wanted to be the lead... and he had the name?

What?? It's amazing that one post can be so right and so wrong at the same time.

I haven't read any of the previous threads, and I'm not even sure what the topic of this thread is about, but even I understood what Bill was saying.

HH


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