Fatal Flaw?

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  • #31
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    I like to make them all the same character. Little trick I learned from Mr. Charlie Kaufman.

    Seriously, I've heard this protagonist and main character being different people thing before, and I've never understood it. The classic example is Atticus as the protagonist and Scout as the main character. But I don't see how looking at it like that helps write the thing.

    Just because we see the story from Scout's perspective doesn't mean the drama isn't driven by Atticus and his actions. Feels like arbitrary labeling, but maybe there's another way to look at it.

    However, there is no world in which Gandalf = antagonist makes even a lick of sense. That's gibberish.

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    • #32
      Re: Fatal Flaw?

      well, according to the theory the protag is the one who is trying to achieve the main goal in the plot, and the Antag is the one trying to stop him.

      The theory uses the example of a battle. two sides meeting on a battlefield. The protag is the general trying to occupy the territory, and the antag is the general trying to stop him. The main character is a simple soldier in the middle of the battle, and it's his eyes we use to experience the heat the battle.

      so using this example, Sauron is the one trying to dominate middle earth, Gandalf is the one manauvering and instigating the forces against him, and Frodo is the poor soldier in the middle of the battlefield.

      At least that's how I understand the theory to be working.

      It just never occured to me that not everybody would buy into this theory

      They also say that a film like Die-Hard is something different altogether. The main character is also the protagonist here, as the general is also the soldier in the field.

      or is he the 'Antagonist' - as he's trying to 'stop' the bad-guys...?
      Last edited by Steven Jenkins; 03-28-2010, 12:35 PM.
      "Would you take a f**k to save your president?"

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      • #33
        Re: Fatal Flaw?

        The Sauron-Frodo thing makes an important point: you can tell stories from multiple points of view. You could make Sauron the hero, tell the story from his side. (Somebody did this online somewhere - he's trying to overturn a racist hegemony).

        But one needs to be careful with this. In a good story, every character has strong motivations, they want something - that means anyone could be the protagonist. I mean, imagine Boromir as the tragic hero of LOTR: he's sent on a quest to find a weapon he needs to save his people, he doesn't get it, and millions die in a war as a consequence.

        As Bill has pointed out, often in action movies the hero is reactive: in Die Hard, no bad guys = no movie. No John McClane ... well, you still kinda have a movie there, albiet a very different one.

        Nevertheless, the hero is driving the particular action of the film. Die Hard with Holly as the hero is a very very different film, even though the bad guys are the same and have the same plan.

        In LOTR, Frodo's decision to take the Ring to Mordor drives the particular action of the film. In the absence of Sauron's plan for world domination, that quest doesn't exist, but that doesn't mean Frodo isn't the protagonist.

        There is a larger story of which Gandalf is the protagonist - his war against Sauron, as part of the council. The events of the books end up being the third act of that story - the pieces Gandalf has set in motion in his life up to that point (digging through ancient books, developing relationships among the various races so they would be ready when the time came, seeking out the one ring) all come to fruition. But that is a story Tolkein didn't tell, we only get echoes of it (Gandalf talks of his encounter with the Necromancer, etc).

        Similarly, you'd go back even farther if you were going to tell the story where Sauron is the hero, back before the creation of the rings of power, which is probably the first-act break in his story. (Not having read the Simarillion in its entirety, I don't know all the details of Sauron's history, so that's a bit of a guess). In that story, the events of the books are, again, the third act: he discovers that his ring has been found, and declares himself openly in a final bid to destroy the hegemony of the Elves.

        But that should of storytelling jiu-jitsu shouldn't obscure the fact that the protagonist is the hero of the story by definition, the one who drives the action.

        Sometimes you have a story where the point-of-view character isn't the protagonist (eg, "Shane") - where we see the hero through the eyes of someone else. That might be the sort of thing the original poster is talking about here, I'm not sure.

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        • #34
          Re: Fatal Flaw?

          Scout is the narrator, not the main character. It's like saying that Nick is the main character of Gatsby. (Please, don't someone say that.)

          And yes, you can tell LOTR with anyone being the protagonist. (See "Rosencrantz and Guildernstern Are Dead.") That doesn't change the fact that Frodo is the protagonist and main character of the movie as it exists now.

          Steven, art is subjective, but the meaning of the word "protagonist" isn't. And it's not just semantics - your main character is your protagonist and his goal defines the plot of the movie. 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.

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          • #35
            Re: Fatal Flaw?

            Right

            I'll go back and re-assess what's what. I need to get these things down-pat.

            And, thanks for all the input everyone
            "Would you take a f**k to save your president?"

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            • #36
              Re: Fatal Flaw?

              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.
              "I am the story itself; its source, its voice, its music."
              - Clive Barker, Galilee

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              • #37
                Re: Fatal Flaw?

                Originally posted by asjah8
                now, what's even messier is that frodo doesn't really evolve at all; he is a static character. the story evolves via his involvement in everyone else's lives; the dynamic supporting characters. actually, frodo has to be a strong static character in order to carry the spine while the writer plays with povs of other threads. otherwise, the whole thing would fall apart.
                Frodo does actually evolve. He comes under the ring's influence and starts to turn darker, so that's one type of evolution triggered by something external. But he also arcs simply because of everything he goes through during the story. When he gets back to the Shire at the end, he realizes he doesn't really belong there anymore. Of course, he has to take care of that little Saruman problem - and he can. He's not the hobbit he was when he left.

                I can't remember how it played out in the movies, though. Maybe he was more static in them.
                "Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.-
                ― Ray Bradbury

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                • #38
                  Re: Fatal Flaw?

                  Originally posted by Steven Jenkins View Post
                  I guess it's just a mix-up of terms, probably from my having recently read the theory behind the "Dramatica" program, which they agree is a little different to established thinking.

                  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.

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                  • #39
                    Re: Fatal Flaw?

                    catalyst
                    But this wily god never discloses even to the skillful questioner the whole content of his wisdom.

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                    • #40
                      Re: Fatal Flaw?

                      Originally posted by Ravenlocks View Post
                      Frodo does actually evolve. He comes under the ring's influence and starts to turn darker, so that's one type of evolution triggered by something external. But he also arcs simply because of everything he goes through during the story. When he gets back to the Shire at the end, he realizes he doesn't really belong there anymore. Of course, he has to take care of that little Saruman problem - and he can. He's not the hobbit he was when he left.

                      I can't remember how it played out in the movies, though. Maybe he was more static in them.
                      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.
                      life happens
                      despite a few cracked pots-
                      and random sunlight

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                      • #41
                        Re: Fatal Flaw?

                        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.
                        "Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.-
                        ― Ray Bradbury

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                        • #42
                          Re: Fatal Flaw?

                          Originally posted by jonpiper View Post
                          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, 06:33 AM.
                          "Would you take a f**k to save your president?"

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                          • #43
                            Re: Fatal Flaw?

                            Originally posted by TwoBrad Bradley View Post
                            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.
                            "I am the story itself; its source, its voice, its music."
                            - Clive Barker, Galilee

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Re: Fatal Flaw?

                              Originally posted by jonpiper View Post
                              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.
                              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?
                              But this wily god never discloses even to the skillful questioner the whole content of his wisdom.

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                              • #45
                                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
                                But this wily god never discloses even to the skillful questioner the whole content of his wisdom.

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