Own worst enemy

Discuss the practical use of Dramatica. Have questions about how throughlines should be used, how to create Complex Characters or even the various combinations of the 12 Essential Questions and how they will affect your story go here.
cms222

Own worst enemy

Postby cms222 » Jan 19, 2011 11:54 am

Hello,

I'm new to Dramatica but already love what I've seen and read thus far. I am, however, a bit confused as to how to address a main character and protagonist in a story that I am working on. Basically this character is his own worst enemy with almost all of his misfortunes and problems arising from his inability to realize that the rash, ill-conceived and impulsive decisions he makes are really the true root of what befalls him. He rationalizes and cannot seem to coalesce his conflicting nature. My question is, does this MC also take on the role of contagonist, as well as some of the other roles usually assigned to the IC or other supporting characters? Is this even feasible? I hope this made some sense and look forward to any advice.

Thanks much,

Charles

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Chris Huntley
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Re: Own worst enemy

Postby Chris Huntley » Jan 19, 2011 12:06 pm

Hey Charles --

What you have described is the basis for a good, conflicted Main Character. However, I didn't hear anything about what is going on in the 'big picture' (Overall Story throughline) of your story.

What is everyone else in the story concerned with? What is the shared goal that all of the characters are either for or against?

Once you identify the answers to those two questions, you have identified the general goings-on in the Overall Story throughline. Your next question is, "How does the player who is my Main Character fit into the Overall Story throughline?"

Once you have identified where he fits in, THEN you can determine what his objective character function (or archetype) may be. Is he the Contagonist, or the Protagonist, or the Sidekick? It's impossible to say without knowing what is going down in the OS throughline.
Chris Huntley
Write Brothers Inc.
http://dramatica.com/
http://screenplay.com/

cms222

Re: Own worst enemy

Postby cms222 » Jan 21, 2011 9:53 am

Thanks for the quick response Chris! I hope this won’t be too long for the forums…

Your follow up questions absolutely hit home with me. One of the reasons I invested in Dramatica was to utilize it to analyze finished outlines, to find holes, to flesh out plot and character motivations. While working on this current story I found that it seemed to make a good tale but there might be something missing as far as being a Grand Argument story went. Hopefully you'll indulge me if I go into a bit more detail as the outline has been completed, and the characters fleshed out, for months now. I'll try to answer each of your questions as well in the hopes that that will help better define my original questions and confusion.

Setting: 4 BCE, Southern Arabian Peninsula

Here is my synopsis of the MC’s motivations, concerns, problems, what have you:

Caught in the age old battle between the need to live honorably and not to cause shame to his immediate family and larger clan, the MC faces a dilemma. He has caused great shame to befall not only himself but his family and thus, his extended clan as well. Rescuing his brother from his inevitable death at the hands of his father and various villagers, effectively “stealing” him away, has instilled a sense of great shame in the MC. While he knows that he had to save his brother (who is mentally and physically challenged), he also knows that what he did goes against the very nature of his being as it relates to the teachings, values and edicts of his family and people. Compromised, the MC now thinks he wants only to restore his honor. Coupled with this desire is his need for great wealth and standing. He hopes to somehow form his own people/tribe while sheltering his brother from the wrath and abuse of others. The MC is completely conflicted. On the one hand the MC sees what he has done as a honorable deed (although dishonorable in the eyes of all he knew). He seeks wealth and standing as a means of rectifying his shame but is willing to use any means necessary to obtain it, thus causing himself to feel even more shameful before any action is undertaken. He sees himself as his brother's keeper yet he uses his brother to further his own ends (always rationalizing that he does what is needed to keep him safe) and is perhaps subconsciously resentful of his brother, his burden, his undoing. The MC’s underlying, and most important, desire is to feel “whole” again – to coalesce his conflicting nature. This would be a subconscious desire.

I believe that the MC’s goal above is solely his own and that all of the other characters, in one way or another, are working to reinforce, to reapply and ingrain, their societies values and ethical system upon the MC who they view as an aberration. All of the other characters seem to want to control the MC, to reign him in, or at least to bring him under some vestige of control (some want to kill him). The MC’s brother, although mentally and physically challenged, acts as a sort of Guardian and Sidekick but also Hinders the MC (and is often Manipulated by the MC). This is where some confusion lies as well. The assigning of roles is confusing me. At this point I’d say he is definitely the Protagonist but does he fit some other archetypes/functions as well? Can he even?

Your next question is, "How does the player who is my Main Character fit into the Overall Story throughline?"

The MC is the driving force behind the action of the story. His decisions are based on his desires and are often wrong, rash, ill-conceived and so forth. Circumstances arising from his actions also help to drive the plot forward.

The MC has, in the years after “stealing” his brother away from his village, embarked on a path of thievery, conniving and banditry. He has completely immersed himself in a life of shame. His ideas of shame and honor have become even more thoroughly confused as he continues to see his actions as honorable (as they relate to the protection and well-being of his brother) but his subconscious is riddled with great shame and self doubt. Once a young man with minor standing, albeit within the circles of the criminal elements of his society, he has since fallen out of favor. Now a pauper once again, the MC is beginning to doubt himself and his eventual goals more strongly. He doubts his ability to care for his brother, that what he is doing is in fact honorable at all, and this is leading to feelings of inadequacy, abandonment (such as: his brother would be better off fending for himself), guilt, anger and frustration. These feelings have, in turn, caused the MC to act rashly, without preparation or cerebration, without concern for his or his brother’s safety, without hope.
After trying numerous different Problem and Solution types, I haven’t been able to choose a pair that seems to fit. I know his resolve will probably be Steadfast (he fails [at least as far as his society would judge him but maybe not as we in the western world would look at the outcome] and dies).

Anyway, I hope this gives you some insight into the dilemma I’m facing and that it was what you were looking for (at least somewhat). I am working on another story for which I started using Dramatica from the get-go and that one is going a lot smoother.

Thanks again Chris, for all of your help thus far, Charles

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Re: Own worst enemy

Postby Chris Huntley » Jan 26, 2011 1:33 pm

I am having trouble differentiating your Main Character throughline from the Overall Story throughline, which I think is your problem too. Both examples you give sound personal to the MC, and not much other characters are likely to care much about. For example, if Scarlett from Gone with the Wind is your MC, what is the Civil War part of your story?

To help me help you, would you please re-frame your examples in the following manner?

-- For your MC throughline, refer to your MC as BOB (or your MC's real name if you prefer -- but keep in mind this is a public forum).

-- For your MC's function in the Overall Story throughline, refer to him by his role in that aspect of the story, such as "the thief,"the older brother," or "the outsider." Choose a label that identifies him as he relates to the other characters in the story.

Other than that...

-- What is the Overall Story Goal? What is it that EVERYONE in the story shares a concern over?

-- Who is the protagonist?

-- Who is the antagonist?

Answering these questions should go a long way toward bringing me up to speed on what you want from your story.
Chris Huntley
Write Brothers Inc.
http://dramatica.com/
http://screenplay.com/


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