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Old 03-29-2010, 12:11 AM   #41
Ravenlocks
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

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Originally Posted by asjah8 View Post
i never thought about it that way; good point raven. i tend to think of an arc as more internal and character-altering. frodo isn't really conflicted about what he has to do, although he's afraid; and he recognizes evil for what it is. all through the story he tells others the darkness is his cross to bear. the only point i really hesitated, was golum. frodo didn't recognize golum's deeper evil because sympathy blinded him.

well, this blows my fabulous theory all to hell. in a good way though, so i appreciate the insight.


Your analysis of the dramatic throughline stands. We've got all those POV, but the main story is always Frodo getting the ring to the mountain.

Re: Gollum, he was what Frodo could have become. I can't remember whether Frodo explicitly recognized that, but it could definitely account for the sympathy there.
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Old 03-29-2010, 08:15 AM   #42
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

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Steven, study this article concerning when the main character is not the protagonist, http://storyfanatic.com/articles/sto...e-protagonist/

It may help you continue to discuss this issue.
Thanks Jon
I've gone back to all the books and to Dramatica's manual and seen I've got it all completely wrong.

I still have a few problems with Star Wars though, even if I agree Luke is the Protagonist, MC and Hero.

Leia is the one tasked with delivering the plans to the rebellion.
Obi wan gets the call to adventure when she passes the baton to him via R2D2 when she gets caught.
Luke is merely tasked with helping Obi Wan deliver the plans, and also help Leia - so he's just kind of Obi's helper and jedi apprentice.
Luke then becomes Leia's rescuer, and helper to get the plans away from Darth and to the rebellion. Even the plan to rescue Leia quickly becomes Han's plan, assisted by Luke.

So although Luke mostly plays secondary dramatic functions he's still the protag, as without him all would be lost after Obi gets killed by Darth. And of course, he's the one who actually destroys the Death Star and transforms because of it.

Assuming the above is a fair analyssis, now I need to apply Dramatica to Thelma & Louise, as this is the kind of story my own idea most closely resembles - at least in the method of assigning role functions.

Last edited by Steven Jenkins : 03-29-2010 at 08:33 AM.
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Old 03-29-2010, 03:01 PM   #43
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

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Which is the reporter, Thompson, in Citizen Kane? He seems to be the character with the goal while the story is more about someone else.
And what about Pirates of the Caribbean? Elizabeth is the protagonist while the story is Mainly focused on a different Character.
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Old 03-29-2010, 10:21 PM   #44
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

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Steven, study this article concerning when the main character is not the protagonist, http://storyfanatic.com/articles/sto...e-protagonist/

It may help you continue to discuss this issue.
Quote:
A Main Character is the player through whom the audience experiences the story first hand. A Protagonist is the prime mover of the plot. A Hero is a combination of both Main Character and Protagonist. In other words, a hero is a blended character who does two jobs: move the plot forward and serve as a surrogate for the audience. When we consider all the characters other than a Protagonist who might serve as the audience’s position in a story, suddenly the concept of a hero becomes severely limited. It is not wrong, just limited.
Do we need more movies like Last Action Hero?
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Old 03-29-2010, 10:29 PM   #45
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

all it's saying is that the MC is the character that tells the story and the Protagonist is the empathetic character that the audience roots for and/or opposes the Antagonist.

in the same terminology the 'Hero' the combination of the MC and ProTag
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Old 03-30-2010, 12:25 AM   #46
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

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Re: Gollum, he was what Frodo could have become. I can't remember whether Frodo explicitly recognized that, but it could definitely account for the sympathy there.
yes, i see what you mean. that does fall in place with golum. actually, just thinking about it, i wonder if frodo's character arc is almost on the level of a story arc?

it makes sense. the antithesis of getting to the mountain, is going home (full circle). and if that is drawn as the character's need, then it's a simple and opposing goal that is strong enough to carry a 3-film spine. but, in order for the writers to pull it off, they'd need two things: they'd still need to show the protag's conflict at the singular film level. that's a huge problem with all those other story threads going on; easy to get lost in all the noise. too strong and the threads lose focus; too weak and the story loses momentum. golum, as a conflicted symbol of degradation solves everything neatly.

the second thing the writer's would have needed was a solid sale of all three films, before they ever started writing the first one. can't write a 3-film spine with only one film in the bag.

i mean, we all know tlotr is a literary series so two and three could reasonably be expected; but, many films have also been part of a series and they were drafted to potentially stand alone if necessary. i think star wars is a great example. tlotr though, none of the films can stand alone. it's like total commitment in the writing from 1 to 3.

does any of my sleepy writing make sense, or am i off-track looking at it from this perspective? appreciate thoughts.
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Old 03-30-2010, 01:16 AM   #47
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

Just to clear up any "horrifically bad information" I may be passing on...

The idea that the Protagonist and the Main Character have to be the same person is an outdated concept that stifles writers and obfuscates true meaning in narrative fiction.

As Steven points out, you can combine the two to get the classic "Hero" character that most writers are comfortable with. However, if you want to write something different, something unique and closer to real life, then yes you can split them apart as in the aforementioned "Mockingbird." "Shawshank Redemption" is another great example of a story where the two are split.

Why would you want to differentiate between the two? Because the thematic issues that affect everyone in the story are not the same as those that affect the Main Character personally. In point of fact, it is the differential between these two that actually provides the meaning audiences are looking for. In real life we cannot live both within ourselves and also look outside at ourselves objectively - it is a physical impossibility.

This is why stories exist - to provide us with both perspectives and therefore give us the meaning we so often crave, yet can't find in real life.

The Main Character provides the inner viewpoint, the Protagonist (prime mover of the plot), Antagonist, and so on provide that external 3rd person view.

The problem you are having with "Star Wars" is that you haven't identified the true goal of the story. Before determining the Protagonist/Antagonist, it helps to figure out what the goal is first.

Everyone thinks the goal of "Star Wars" is to blow up the death star, but this really doesn't come into play until the latter half of the film. The real goal, what everyone is most concerned with or interested in is rebelling against tyranny and oppression. Note that this is not the common kind of goal that most people are comfortable with and I'm sure everyone will jump on me, but when you really think of the concerns and issues present throughout the entire story, this goal of rebelling against tyranny is more accurate than simply "blowing up the Death Star".

With that goal in mind, it becomes clear that Luke is the Protagonist (he wants to fight the empire) whereas the Empire is the Antagonist (they want to prevent him and his buddies).

I have written two articles that explain this is more detail. Both contain slides that I use in my presentations given while teaching Story Development at the California Institute of the Arts:

Archetypes That Make Sense
Character Motivation Defined

The latter also has a 10-minute video explaining in great detail the character archetypes present in "Star Wars".

It has been awhile since I've seen "Thelma and Louise", but if I remember correctly, Thelma (Geena Davis) is the Protagonist while Louise (Susan Sarandon) is the Main Character. I'm not sure if this is the same kind of dynamic you have in your own story, but it certainly sounds like it.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions about anything feel free to write to me at http://storyfanatic.com/contact and I'll try to help you out as best I can.

The important thing to remember is to write first and only refer to this stuff when you are stuck or if you feel like what you have in mind isn't what everyone else is telling you. Your intuition should always rule.
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Old 03-30-2010, 01:35 AM   #48
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

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Originally Posted by asjah8 View Post
golum, as a conflicted symbol of degradation solves everything neatly.
It also makes Gollum one of the most memorable characters, IMO.

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Originally Posted by asjah8 View Post
tlotr though, none of the films can stand alone. it's like total commitment in the writing from 1 to 3.

does any of my sleepy writing make sense, or am i off-track looking at it from this perspective? appreciate thoughts.
Makes sense to me. I'm not as qualified to talk about the films, though, since I only saw them once, and I saw the non-extended versions. For me they simply couldn't measure up to the books. I probably should watch them again and see how the narrative builds through the three films.
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Old 03-30-2010, 01:55 AM   #49
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

To give the full quote, Jim:

Quote:
I'm not sure who's teaching you the theory that makes Sauron the protagonist of LOTR, or the Emperor the protagonist of Star Wars, but you should never talk to that person again, because they are giving you horrifically bad information.
I'm going to go ahead and stand by that, especially since it sounds like you agree.
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Old 03-30-2010, 02:10 AM   #50
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Default Re: Fatal Flaw?

I'm trying to write something at the moment where I've deliberately chosen to make the 'main character' not the protagonist.

It's a lot harder than you think - it almost seems like a play where all the interesting events are happening off screen. (Although in this case it is the emotional moments that are happening off-hero)

It almost feels like it's a TV spinoff series where I'm trying to keep the viewer's attention and emotion on someone who clearly isn't the main character.

I'm not sure it's successful (or, to be less polite, I'm sure at this stage it isn't !) but it certainly is an interesting writing exercise.

It's becoming a bit like 'You, Me & Dupree' would have been if Dupree hadn't changed at all. The 'Dupree' character is causing all the strife to everyone and is clearly the most interesting person but I'm trying to focus the viewer's attention onto those who are learning to change because of the 'Force of Nature' character.

However the thing I'm really struggling with is that the viewer in me keeps wanting to shout 'Why are you forcing me to watch 'Sidekick' for so long when 'Hero' is doing the much more interesting stuff?'

====

Despite my (not successful) experiment, I really can't see how on earth we could count 'Shawshank Redemption' as an example where the Protagonist and the Main Character is split.

The person the audience follows from the beginning is Andy.
The person who initiates all the changes in the story is Andy.
The person who the audience would sympathize with is Andy.

The fact that he meets someone else who is quite interesting and has a bit of a story of his own doesn't change the fact that Andy is the main character.

Under what argument could you say that Red is the Protagonist? He isn't an agent for change.

Under what argument could you say that Red is the main character? Just because he's the narrator?

Most of Red's narration is about ANDY - because ANDY is the main character. If the narrator was an omniscient point of view, would that make the omniscient point of view the main character? (Now that I think of it, in a way Red's narration is almost omniscient POV - he knows the history of everyone up until the end.)

Plenty of films are narrated by someone who isn't the main character.

'The Castle' is a film about a battle to save a family's home. The main character is the father of the family - the David in the David & Goliath battle. The narrator is a young kid who, quite literally, does nothing throughout the entire film except dig a hole. And the hole isn't even relevant to the plot !

You can't tell me that the kid who dug a hole is the main character. It's just the POV to show us who the main character really is.

Mac

Last edited by Mac H. : 10-27-2010 at 10:24 PM.
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