Blog Post

Writing a Holistic Assassin

Aug 30th, 2016

As mentioned in last week's article Predicting Who Will Listen to Your Story, most stories feature a Linear problem-solving Main Character. Writers, like most artists, love searching for ways to be different and to stand out from the crowd. Bucking this trend of step-by-step solvers appeals to them, leading many down the path of writing a story where the central character prefers to balance out the relationships around them.

But what if you wanted to write the story of an assassin with tendency towards holism? We can only dream that Assassin's Creed takes this approach (it won't), but until then we have Dramatica co-creator Chris Huntley explaining how one would writer a Holistic problem-solving assassin:

A holistic assassin might determine pressure points based on the target's relationships with others that, when pushed, may trigger rebalancing in one or more of those relationship in such a way that circumstances cause one of those relationships to go bad and lead to the target's death either by suicide or murder by another party.

So instead of finding out where the target lives, acquiring the weapon and ammunition from the black market, finding the best vantage point in a window across the street five floors up, and carefully selecting the precise time within the victim's schedule when they will be most vulnerable as a Linear assassin would…

The Holistic assassin would work friends and family around the target, becoming friends with them, developing a rapport with the target's work colleagues and those service employees who administer the building within which he lives, influencing them to dwell on the awful circumstances of their own relationships with the target, thereby producing a groundswell of anger and frustration that eventually tips the balance against the target, leading one of these people to taking the target out permanently to save everyone else…

…all without firing a shot.

Far more interesting and far more elaborate than the Linear approach—and now you know why it is often the underdog when it comes to writing a narrative. Linear is simply easier for the majority of Authors in Hollywood in power to understand and write.

But Holism is on the rise.