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Old 04-08-2010, 05:48 PM   #241
TwoBrad Bradley
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Default 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.
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Old 04-08-2010, 05:55 PM   #242
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

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Originally Posted by billmarq View Post
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.
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Old 04-08-2010, 06:42 PM   #243
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Default 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.
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Old 04-09-2010, 12:57 AM   #244
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

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Originally Posted by zenplato View Post
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?
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Old 04-09-2010, 01:05 AM   #245
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

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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
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Old 04-09-2010, 01:17 AM   #246
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

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Originally Posted by billmarq View Post
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!

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Thank you.
welcome
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Old 04-09-2010, 01:53 AM   #247
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

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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
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Old 04-09-2010, 04:38 AM   #248
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

Quote:
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.
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
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Old 04-09-2010, 03:17 PM   #249
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

Quote:
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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Old 04-09-2010, 03:37 PM   #250
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Default 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.
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