As a last part to my series on plot I give you a method of understand character and motivation and what can make or break a story. this probably works best or at least more clearly in a story that is character vs Character, however I think that it can be applied to any of the plots because what ever the vs. is it should be represented by something that the Main character can fight or over come.
briefly to give credit where credit is due a lot of the information for this post comes from an Episode of Writing Excuses (6.18) during an interview with Lou Anders of Pry Books, who got it from Dan Decker. I found if very interesting and helpful and I hope any of my readers who are also writers may find it interesting and helpful as they are trying to push out words for Nanowrimo. or just as they are trying to work on whatever novels they are working on.
okay so this formula focuses on three characters: the Protagonist, the Antagonist, and the Friend. The Protagonist in the story is the person that the story is about, there is something that he or she wants. The antagonist stands in the way for the protagonist to get when he or she wants. and the friend pushes the The protagonist to realize what they want and go for it.
The story ends when when three things happen, 1. the Protagonist overcomes the the Antagonist, 2. The protagonist achieves his goal, 3. the Protagonist and the Friend are reconciled. the closer these things can happen together the more emotionally invested the reader will be. kind of cool huh?
not every story follows this formula but it is a good one. and it seems so simple, but this does not understand that antagonist is the same as bad guy, the antagonist is simply the one who stands in the way of what the Protagonist wants. there for the critical thing is to know what the character wants. also it must be somethng tangible even if there is some sociological stuff going on in the story the goal must be something that can be attained.
So, examples, well I was thinking about using Harry Potter but I think it may have been too long sense I read the series.
However I think we all know that Harry is the protagonist. the next question is what does harry want? there are several things we can say he wants but what would be the one that is over arching to the entire series. we could say that he wants revenge, but i think there is something deeper he wants which is exposed in the first chapter of the first book and then continues to pop up. I think he wants a family, a place where he is loved and where he belongs. I think we can see this by what he sees his parents in book one, in book three what happy thoughts he uses to try and call forth a Patronis, How he views the Weasleys family-whether it is how he reacts to the Christmas present in book one, how he loves living with them in book two, his adventure with them at the start of book four, in every book Harry spends time with the weasleys and though they see him as another son and brother (mostly) and this will become official when he marries Ginny he is always on the outside wanted what Ron has. his desire for family is what makes his relationship with Sirous black so important and an important view into this desire.
So who stands in the way of Harry getting what he wants?
Well It's Voldemort. Voldemort kills Harry's parents, nearly kills Ginny, Separated him from Sirius Black, then there is the strange thing with the wands when they meet in book four, he orders the death of iSrius Black, the death of Dumbledore, the death eaters crashing of the quiditch cup, the crashing of the wedding at the Burrow, the way the piece of his soul poisoned Ron and harry against each other. Harry has to face Voldemort if he is going to get what he wants, a real home.
Now here is the real question, who is Harry's friend? who pushes Herry to get what he wants, who is reconsiled to harry in the end, who is it that guides harry? there are lots of candidates. It could be Ron, Herminone, Dumbledore, Sirus black, Lupin. But some of them die early int he series, and others... others don't have any massive need for reconciliation. Some of them encourage and stand with harry, some of them guide him, but not one of them really cause him to move outside himself and do what it is he needs to do to aceive his goals, none of them really modivate him towards what his goal is. sure Dumbledore guides and pushes Harry towards a goal, but is it for the modavation that harry has? or is it because it is the right thing to do and Harry is the only one who can do it?
That is right I thin kthe friend in this situation is Snape. Why? well first off there is massive need for reconciliation. Snape is almost always conected to why harry does the things he does, he feeds the modivation of harry and there is a breach between them. Harry doesn't understand Snape, or why Snape does the things he does. the don't make sense until the reconciliation happens. when Snape is killed Harry gets to see a series of memories of Snape's which fill in all the gaps. they explain Snape's motivation and his guilt, and thus his actions. With out Snape Harry would never have done what he did for the reason. unlike Dumbledore Snape is more connected with harry's parents then anyone else. yes he was mocked and tortured by James, but he loved, really loved Lilly. he and harry are reconciled and thus Snape is reconciled with Lilly. And armed with this reconciliation Harry is off to face the antagonist for the final showdown.
So Harry Potter Fans what do you think? Do you agree with me or think I am a nut?
also taking this formula how would the dark knight break down? you may be surprised by the answer.