Fatal Flaw?

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  • BrosHarrow
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    Originally posted by jonpiper View Post
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • asjah8
    replied
    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.
    Last edited by asjah8; 04-10-2010, 12:00 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • billmarq
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • reddery
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    Jim

    What's your take on The Departed?

    Leave a comment:


  • jonpiper
    replied
    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)

    Leave a comment:


  • JimHull
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    LOL -- no, I'll start another thread for that

    Leave a comment:


  • TwoBrad Bradley
    replied
    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?

    Leave a comment:


  • JimHull
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • MrEarbrass
    replied
    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...

    Leave a comment:


  • BrosHarrow
    replied
    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.
    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

    Leave a comment:


  • reddery
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    Originally posted by jonpiper View Post
    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

    Leave a comment:


  • reddery
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    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!

    Thank you.
    welcome

    Leave a comment:


  • reddery
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
    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

    Leave a comment:


  • reddery
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    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?

    Leave a comment:


  • JimHull
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:

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