Personal Baggage and the Main Character

Defining the difference between point-of-view and narrative function

Called again to explain the very important difference between Main Character and Protagonist (as defined by the Dramatica theory of story - the most comprehensive understanding of story to date), I reply:

Ain't It Cool's Sneak Peek of Pixar's Brave Displays More Ignorance

Critiques based on inadequate understandings of narrative create great distress.

Out of respect to those working on the film and crafting the story there will be no quotes of the original Ain’t It Cool article (now removed) that criticized Pixar’s Brave. However, there was one witless notion of story structure that cannot go unanswered.

Why Gross Generalizations in Screenwriting Don't Work

Greater specificity in how we look at story results in a greater understanding of how narrative works.

An analysis of Good Will Hunting struggles with its understanding of Main Character, Protagonist, Villain, and Story Goal:

You Cannot Avoid Screenplay Structure

Structure is the carrier wave of your story’s message.

From Alex Epstein’s book Crafty Screenwriting:

The Confusion between Main Character and Protagonist

Trying once again to educate the masses on the difference between objective and subjective points-of-view

Over at the DoneDealPro Messageboard, (where I’m called out for giving “horrifically bad information”), there is a discussion going on regarding the differences between the Main Character and the Protagonist.

Michael Hague's Screenplay Structure and Why It Works

Knowing why structure functions clues one in on the importance of structure.

The Mind of a Main Character

The base operating system of a character

Almost as important as establishing the issues facing a Main Character is determining the order in which he or she attempts to overcome them. The Mindset of a story signals to the Audience why the Main Character behaves a certain way Every story is unique, yet the mechanism that establishes this order can be broken down with this one simple concept.

How Main Characters Approach Problems

Some prefer to take action, others prefer to internalize.

Main Characters have a myriad of approaches they can employ when it comes to solving the problems in a story. Knowing which one clues Authors in on the kind of conflict their Main Charater faces. The important thing when writing a successful Main Character is determining which approach they will take first.

Development of Character Arc

All growth is not transformative.

Transformation of character is one thing; how they got there is another. Sometimes, a character stands fast to their resolve in order to change the world around them. Continuing an in-depth look at the most important character of any story, we now shift our attention towards the direction their growth takes.

Main Character and Meaning

When it comes to making your narrative mean something, a clear indication of the central character's point-of-view is paramount.

Of the four throughlines found in every complete story, the Main Character Throughline is perhaps the most important as it represents the audience’s point-of-view on a story’s central problem. Leave it out and you can pretty much count on your audience leaving as well.

Character Motivation Defined

Archetypes consist of one Action and one Decision element.

Characters are more than the labels they are so easily defined with.

Archetypes That Make Sense

In a complete story, characters perform a function.

Wouldn't it be nice if you had a set of eight basic characters from which to draw upon while writing a story? And wouldn't it be nicer if they operated completely independent of the "hero"?

Archetypes and the Hero's Journey

A better method for appreciating character relationships exists.

By far, the most useless aspect of the Hero's Journey mono-myth lies with the concept of the character archetype. The Shapeshifter, the Trickster, the Threshold Guardian...while romantically named, prove ultimately worthless to the working writer.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

The cliché of the century finds roots in human psychology.

"You and I, we're just the same." "We have so much in common." "I looked in his eyes and I saw myself." Ever heard these lines before?

What Character Arc Really Means

Some characters grow by maintaining their resolve against all odds.

When asked to define character arc, most people think it has something to do with how the Main Character changes within a story. While in some respect this is correct, it is inaccurate to assume that this means every Main Character needs to undergo some major transformation. Understanding the difference between growth and change is essential to the proper implementation of character arc in a story.

Determining the Mind of a Main Character

How a character thinks determines the order of Acts within a story.

When looking at the structure of the story, an integral part of its makeup lies within the mind of the Main Character. How they go about solving problems determines the order of the events in the story.

The End Of A Main Character's Arc

Peaceful resolutions come in many different ways, regardless of how reprehensible.

Main Characters, like the people in real life they portray, find peace in their own personal way. Sometimes they achieve this resolution by means most would consider sad or even reprehensible. What happens when an Author’s judgment on a Main Character’s growth clashes with societal standards?

Untapped Potential

An examination of a missed opportunity for story greatness.

What starts out as subject matter unfortunately turns out to be valid criticism for the film as well.

Of Tragedies and Triumphs

A meaningful ending is one where the Author communicates a complete argument.

There are tragic endings, and there are triumphant ones. There are celebrations of personal achievements, and cautionary tales of pushing too far. The meaningful ending is the purpose of a story, it is the essence of what the author is trying to say.

Writing the Personal Tragedy

The combination of success with unresolved emotional states creates this bittersweet narrative.

Feeling good about losing out is one thing, feeling miserable about winning is something else. Like the personal triumph, the personal tragedy straddles the emotional bridge between an all out rejoicing and an overwhelming depression.

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