Who is the protagonist?

Come here to ask questions or give advice about the theory that forms the basis of Dramatica.
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Who is the protagonist?

Postby motormind » Aug 27, 2008 11:54 am

I hi there...

I want to bust in with a nagging question I have with filling in the character profiles. I have this story about a girl who finds a possessed item. The spirit that comes from this item also turns out to be a girl, who starts to take over the other girl's life. Both characters are very important to the point that they both can be considered the protagonist of the story. The spirit is has a much more active role though, whereas the girl who finds her is more passive and often just lets herself go with the flow.

Now there can be only one protagonist. Who of the two is it? I feel inclined to say it's the first girl, since I portray most of the story through her eyes. Am I correct?


Re: WHo is the protagost?

Postby Sean » Aug 27, 2008 7:06 pm

At first glance, it sounds like the girl is the protagonist and the spirit is the antagonist because what they are both fighting over the same thing - possession of the girl's mind/soul.

The girl is also the Main Character, it seems, which begs the question who the Impact Character is?

Horror movies are an interesting case for Dramatica theory because quite often the protagonist is consumed or inhabited by the antagonist so they effectively change functions, sometimes permanently.

The Exorcist is a clear-cut example of possession upfront. Her character is obliterated by the devil until she is exorcised and returns, pretty much intact, at the end. She is basically the object over which the priest and devil fight.

In The Shining, though, Jack Nicholson starts off as the protagonist then switches to antagonist about halfway through once the evil spirit of the hotel gains control of his mind. The little boy is the Main Character so our emotional viewpoint and identification is intact. If anything it intensifies as the boy flees his homicidal father and finally fatally outwits him in the snow.

I'm not exactly sure who the Impact Character is on the boy though. The black Janitor?, who is also the Guardian/Mentor.
I would guess screaming Shelley Devall is pure emotion!

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Re: WHo is the protagonist?

Postby motormind » Aug 27, 2008 10:58 pm

Sean wrote:At first glance, it sounds like the girl is the protagonist and the spirit is the antagonist because what they are both fighting over the same thing - possession of the girl's mind/soul.

Well, it's not so much that the spirit wants to take over her soul. She is actually benevolent, but is simply a very imposing character who starts deciding things for the other girl, who is very shy. As they interact they learn things: the shy girl how to be more open and have fun; the spirit how to genuinely feel for people and protect them. Now the thing is that the spirit has her own involved plot line, in which she is the main character. This is a fairly standard format, but I find it hard to wedge into the Dramatica way of things. I do have an idea for an impact character, so that is not the main problem here.

It could also be that I immediately stumbled upon a weak point in my plot: the lack of a continuous protagonist. In that case I have to try to make everything see through the shy girl's eyes, even though she generally has more of a passive role.

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Chris Huntley
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Re: Who is the protagonist?

Postby Chris Huntley » Sep 12, 2008 2:43 pm

First, identify what the Story Goal is in the Overall Story throughline. What is EVERYBODY working toward (protagonist's side) or against (antagonist's side). You'll need to think of the larger picture in order to identify which character in your story is the protagonist.

You may have more than one player represent the protagonist, but they should either be seen as a group or the duties are handed off from one player to the next. In The Exorcist, Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) is the protagonist at first (he suspects the evil has escaped), then the mother is the protagonist ("get the evil out of my daughter, please"), then is handed back to Father Merrin in his capacity as exorcist. The antagonist is the devil/spirit possessing the daughter. Though we experience the horrors of the possession WITH the mother, we really don't get inside her head. The Main Character is Father Karras who is struggling with his faith. The Impact Character hands off between the devil and to a lesser degree the mother, both of whom try to convince Merrin that something unnatural (evil) is responsible for the phenomena. Ultimately, Father Karras changes and gets faith, believes in the devil, and invites the spirit into his body. But Karras robs the spirit of its possession by killing himself.

Your Main Character provides the personal side of your story. If we are supposed to see what it is like to be possessed, then the possessed girl is the Main Character. If not, as in The Exorcist, then someone else is the Main Character.
Chris Huntley
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