Thread: Fatal Flaw?
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Old 04-09-2010, 02:17 PM   #249
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 233
Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

Originally Posted by JimHull View Post
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...
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