Fatal Flaw?

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  • SuperScribe
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • TwoBrad Bradley
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • MrEarbrass
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    Originally posted by JimHull View Post
    The Dramatica theory of story is the only "paradigm" that accounts for all these formats without caveats. It is why you'll find that it accurately describes what is going on in "To Kill A Mockingbird" as well as in "Hamlet" as well as in "Casablanca." Story is story regardless of the medium.
    This reminds me of literary criticism. People come up with all sorts of grand all-encompassing theories, and in their enthusiasm to prove that they have come up with an artistic version of e=mc2 they are forced into all sort of rhetorical gymnastics. The result is that people end up arguing about terms and definitions rather than focusing on what ought to be the heart of literary criticism--the work itself.

    So I guess that's my question: why do you feel a need to try and force "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Casablanca" into a paradigm? Is it helpful for your own writing? I would think that any theory that leads you so far afield that you're misidentifying protagonists and redefining story goals would be an obstacle to writing a story that resonates outside of a computer program. The Epstein brothers somehow managed to write something great in the era before Dramatica--and they did it by focusing on human relationships. Specifically the relationships between their protagonist (hint, he owned a bar) and the characters around him.

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  • billmarq
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    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.

    If you don't agree, watch the film again.

    Thank you.

    Leave a comment:


  • JimHull
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    The Goal of a story is the one thing that will overcome the problems affecting everyone in a story. The goal, or purpose, of any piece of fiction sits outside of the world of the story itself. This may be to entertain, or to provoke, or to incite laughter, or to simply relay some information. When speaking of the Story Goal in regards to the structure of a story, this is something that exists because of the need to solve a problem.

    The Inciting Incident occurs, balance is upset, and the Goal, if successfully achieved will right this inequity. While each character may have his or her own personal goals, there is always one central goal that everyone is attached to. This goal, and the efforts to achieve it represent the author's logical argument surrounding the problem at hand.

    In every complete story there is also an emotional argument going on that correlates with this logical "objective" one, and this emotional argument is where it seems everyone involved in this discussion is focusing their attention. This is because this part of the argument was written with more emphasis in the case of "Casablanca" and it is the part most hold dear. This does not discount the fact that the logical argument still exists. You need to have both for a story to feel complete. The dissonance between the two creates the meaning.

    The letters of transit are not simply a plot device to get the ball rolling. Everyone in "Casablanca" is concerned with these letters, and it is in fact their actions or lack of action towards these letters that argues the logical side of the author's message. Ugarte has (or had) his own nefarious plans for them, Laszlo and Ilsa want them, the refugees will do anything for them (even sleep with Renault if they have to), Strasser wants them returned, Ferrari offers to buy them, and so on. Everyone has their own selfish interests at heart when it comes to these letters and it is this selfishness that creates the problems in the world of "Casablanca." Overcoming that selfishness is the key towards achieving the Story's Goal.

    The mechanism that drives stories in film is the same that drives stories in novels or in plays. Why? Because the intended recipients of the messages delivered through those formats all have the same receiving device -- their brain. The Dramatica theory of story is the only "paradigm" that accounts for all these formats without caveats. It is why you'll find that it accurately describes what is going on in "To Kill A Mockingbird" as well as in "Hamlet" as well as in "Casablanca." Story is story regardless of the medium.

    Leave a comment:


  • instant_karma
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    Okay, maybe I'm showing my lack of experience here, but what is this 'story goal' thing that is now being discussed?

    With specific reference to movies (since novels are a whole other beast, even if you sell/own software that claims to help you outline both forms) I would have thought the story's goal would be to entertain or provoke thought in it's audience.

    Is story goal a widely used term when discussing movies in Hollywood, or is this another invention of Dramatica to address a problem that screenwriters have mysteriously managed to work around in the decades before the software hit the market?

    Leave a comment:


  • JeffLowell
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    Labeling the person who wants the MacGuffin the "protagonist," even though the word has a very different, very established meaning, is just weird. I'm sorry.

    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.

    This theory is bonkers. The MacGuffin is not the movie.

    Leave a comment:


  • jonpiper
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    Originally posted by billmarq View Post
    You are deranged. Sorry.

    The goal was for Rick to resolve his relationship with Ilsa. He accomplishhed that, although not in the manner he originally desired. He chose a "higher" path. Pay attention to the backstory. Rick's altruism was resurrected when he was finally able to cope with Ilsa's leaving him when he realized she truly loved him.

    This movie could easily have been written without Laszlo even appearing and nothing would change. He presence was only instrumental to the plot by re-inforcing Ilsa's motives. Better to see the man rather than just talk about him, right?

    Rick is the protaganist. Any other choice is bunk.

    It's the old inner goal/outer goal thing.
    Originally posted by reddery View Post
    there is also a Role Reversal that goes on. The backstory of Ilsa leaving Rick is that she was protecting him from being considered a conspirator.

    these contridictions ask questions like, were they really in love?

    End of Act one, she lets him go (train scene)
    End of Act Three, he lets her go (plane scene)

    His letter of transit was her leaving him.
    Deranged! Billmarq, give me a break.

    You say, "The goal was for Rick to resolve his relationship with Ilsa."

    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • zenplato
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    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, .

    Leave a comment:


  • reddery
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    Originally posted by billmarq View Post
    It's the old inner goal/outer goal thing.
    there is also a Role Reversal that goes on. The backstory of Ilsa leaving Rick is that she was protecting him from being considered a conspirator.

    these contridictions ask questions like, were they really in love?

    End of Act one, she lets him go (train scene)
    End of Act Three, he lets her go (plane scene)

    His letter of transit was her leaving him.

    Leave a comment:


  • billmarq
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    You are deranged. Sorry.

    The goal was for Rick to resolve his relationship with Ilsa. He accomplishhed that, although not in the manner he originally desired. He chose a "higher" path. Pay attention to the backstory. Rick's altruism was resurrected when he was finally able to cope with Ilsa's leaving him when he realized she truly loved him.

    This movie could easily have been written without Laszlo even appearing and nothing would change. He presence was only instrumental to the plot by re-inforcing Ilsa's motives. Better to see the man rather than just talk about him, right?

    Rick is the protaganist. Any other choice is bunk.

    It's the old inner goal/outer goal thing.

    Leave a comment:


  • jonpiper
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
    If you think that making the main character not have the major story goal will make your story richer (or more salable), I will respectfully disagree.

    And, again, what you're saying about Laszlo isn't correct. He shows up and asks for the letters. Next, Ilsa comes alone and asks for them. Then Laszlo comes back and asks Rick to take Ilsa and the letters and get her to safety. Then Rick uses the letters to send Laszlo and Ilsa to safety.

    So your protagonist asks once for the letters the whole movie. That's pursuing the story goal?

    No wonder that movie sucks.
    So, the movie sucks. That's what happens when the director can't handle a separate protag and main character.

    At least we've narrowed the argument to the story goal and the main character's goal/goals.

    Laszlo spends the whole second act trying to get the letters. Not a lot of screen time, but don't forget this is not who the story is about.

    Rick gets the letters and spends the second act deciding what to do with them. What is his goal?

    Karma says the story goal is Rick's goal is the protection of the woman Rick loves.

    True this becomes one of Rick's goals, but not the story goal. This goal is not born until late in the second act.

    Laszlo came to Casablanca on his way to America. He was supposed to buy letters of transmit from Ugarte but these letters ended up with Rick by the end of Act 1. Rick hides them, not knowing what he will do with them.

    Ilsa comes into the picture. Rick still doesn't know what to do with the letters. Rick still doesn't know what he wants to do with Ilsa at that point.

    Leave a comment:


  • JeffLowell
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    Originally posted by jonpiper View Post
    Perhaps we can think in these terms when creating our own stories to make them richer. We can have a Main character who the story is really about. He is the one who goes through great emotional conflict and change, but his goals can change throughout the story, he doesn't have to struggle to acheive that one big goal at the end of Act 1.

    To keep the story interesting and moving ahead, we can have a different character, a Protagonist, with a single story goal. To make the story interesting the protagonist's goal can involve our Main character and the Main character can be the major driving force in acheiving the Protags goal.
    If you think that making the main character not have the major story goal will make your story richer (or more salable), I will respectfully disagree.

    And, again, what you're saying about Laszlo isn't correct. He shows up and asks for the letters. Next, Ilsa comes alone and asks for them. Then Laszlo comes back and asks Rick to take Ilsa and the letters and get her to safety. Then Rick uses the letters to send Laszlo and Ilsa to safety.

    So your protagonist asks once for the letters the whole movie. That's pursuing the story goal?

    No wonder that movie sucks.

    Leave a comment:


  • instant_karma
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    Originally posted by SuperScribe View Post
    Why the hell are we standing here talking about Casablanca when Alfred Hitchcock is buried alive?!
    If that actually happened, even as he was drawing his last, stale breath, I'm sure he'd enjoy the irony of that being his fate.

    Leave a comment:


  • THEUGLYDUCKLING
    replied
    Re: Fatal Flaw?

    Get a shovel.

    Leave a comment:

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