Saturday, November 19, 2005

The DUAL-NATURED Character

Building --
The Dual-Natured Character
Let’s start this lecture with a HUGE secret:
There are Three Essential Characters in Every Story --
  • Adversary – The one causing all the trouble.
  • Proponent – The one trying to keep things the way they are.
  • Ally (Middle-man) – The close companion of one or the other.
Translation: You can tell any story with ONLY these Three Characters; perhaps not with any real detail, but you could still do the entire basic plotline.

-- And each essential character is governed by One of three SPECIFIC aspects, or Drives:
  • MOTIVE - Driven by a REASON to get involved and stir things up, such as Revenge.
  • ACTION - Driven by the need to ACT, usually because they've been pushed into it.
  • EMOTION - Driven by an EMOTIONALLY Impulsive Reaction and leaping before they look.
There may be any number of side characters, but in traditional Adventures and Romances of every stripe (erotic or not,) the main conflict is always a triangle of these complimentary opposite drives. Just to make things Truly confusing, the Hero, the Heroine, and the Villain can be any one of them!
  • In ‘Leon – the Professional’, Leon is a very action-driven professional assassin Ally Hero bothered into taking in his motive-driven and Adversarial Heroine who was looking for a safe haven from a very emotionally-driven and impulsive Proponant Villain cop.
  • In ‘Tomb Raider’ Lara Croft is an action-driven Proponant Heroine with emotionally-driven impulsive Allies and adversarial paramours that are usually, if not always, motive-driven.
  • In ‘Robin Hood Prince of Thieves’, the Sheriff of Nottingham plays the impulsive Emotionally-Driven Proponent Villain to Robin Hood’s motive-driven Adversarial Hero. Maid Marian is an action-driven Ally Heroine.
  • In ‘The Crow’, Eric Draven is the very Adversarial and motive-driven Hero who goes after the action-driven Proponent Villain merely trying to keep his little kingdom of crime under control. The little girl Nell, is Eric’s impulsive emotionally-driven Ally Heroine, who gets caught in the cross-fire, like any other side-kick.
Why does this matter?
- A Dual-Natured character should possess TWO DRIVES - one for each side of their nature.

Man against Himself
- When a character is at war against his inner-nature, you treat both his likeable nature, and his unlikable nature, as separate drives, separate URGES that are darn near separate entities. (Pick any two drives: Motive / Action / Emotion.)

Example:
  • Inner ManEmotionally Driven to Protect
  • Inner BeastAction Driven to Destroy
Additionally, the other two main characters should participate in bringing attention to the drive / personality split.
  • Hero = Divided character
  • Ally / Lover = Represents everything the character Wants, (and likes about themselves.)
  • Villain = Represents everything the character Hates, (and despises about themselves.)
Duality = Main Conflict
- In a story where a character’s opposing nature (inner-man verses inner-beast,) is heavily pronounced -- enough so, that two opposing drives are necessary to express this split in personality, the character and his battle with his inner nature overpowers the story – and in fact BECOMES the story.

Regardless of what you may have intended to write, once you split their natures into Two Drives, your character’s “duality” becomes the story’s Core Issue = the PREMISE. Resolving that “duality” that division in their nature becomes the story’s main conflict. Hint: The Character assumes the third drive (Action / Motive / Emotion) to resolve their split.

The CURE -- or not?

-----Original Message-----
What about a fight to find a "cure", for the duel-natured character, like a werewolf?”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The BIG Secret!

- A “Dual Nature” in Fiction is symbolic of a Psychological Issue – not a Physical Issue.

Every monster you can think of is in actuality, a symbol of a Human Issue from the dark side of the psyche.
  • Ghosts = Memories that ‘haunt’
  • Vampires = Manipulative Male Sexuality
  • Witches =Manipulative Female Sexuality
  • Sorcerers & Scientists = Control – either loss of, or overwhelming
  • Werewolves = Passions that Consume
  • Faeries = Inability to fit in with the society. This is why Urban Faeries tend to have a ‘punk’ look to them.
  • Monsters in general = Destruction
(What? So, I read a lot of Carl Jung, Wilhelm Riche, Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary…)


One does NOT CURE a Psychological Issue.
One learns to ADJUST to it.

It is a Proven Fact: There are No medicinal Cures for Psychological Issues. Drugs do NOT make psychological issues go away - they merely SUPPRESS their symptoms.

There is only ONE satisfactory Answer 
to a split in Nature / Personality:
Acceptance and INTEGRATION.
The only other option is madness and death.

The search for a Cure is a (symbolic) delay tactic – something the character does to Run Away from his ISSUE rather than face it.

A character’s “Dual Nature” should be written as Two Necessary halves, that need to come together to defeat the bad guy. In fact the two halves of a personality split MUST integrate if you are to have a happy and satisfying ending.

A CURE should be used precisely in the same fashion as a medical cure is used for any psychological issue: as a Delay Tactic to Avoid the Issue by Suppressing the Issue.

The application of a Cure should be used as symbolic proof of the character's FAILURE to face and deal with their personal Issue.


Failure and the CURE: Van Helsing
- In the movie “Van Helsing” the Premise: “Man vs. Monster” demanded that the answer be “self control”.

Gabriel was changed into a werewolf – symbol of a complete lack of control over one’s temper, (and everything Gabriel suppressed within himself.) He went from Action-Driven man to Emotion-Driven monster, which was necessary to defeat the Motive-Driven vampire.

Logically, (plot-wise,) Gabriel should have gained self-control over his second nature (becoming Motive-driven to control himself,) and thus remained a werewolf, albeit able to transform at will - gaining the prize of Controlled Fury -- and the girl. 


However, after his battle, he was unable to come to terms with his “emotional” nature. He failed to gain self-control of his Temper, and Killed his Heroine, symbol of everything he Could have had – unconditional acceptance and love.

She forgave him, (as a ghost) but that did not change the fact that he had Failed to accept himself.

The movie’s writer had no intention of killing off his character, so a remorseful suicidal cliff-dive was right out. Instead, Gabriel was cured. However, this “cure” is a blatant flag that Gabriel will have to face this same issue again, in a later story.

Just to keep things rounded...
Man against Nature
A “man against nature” tale, is in fact a “man against himself” story. The Nature elements, that the character is “in opposition” with, are Symbolic Representations of the Opposing Drives within the character.

Case in point:
‘The Old Man and the Sea’ by Hemmingway
  • Old Man Motive driven to fish.
  • Ocean / Weather – Constantly in motion, this is the Symbol of the man’s opposing drive of Action. (Fishing takes inaction and patience.)
  • Shark – This is the Symbol of the old man’s impulsive Emotional drive to Survive. This is the drive he must adopt to live.
Man against Man
When you have only two characters: Proponent, and Adversary, you give each character an opposing Primary Drive and additionally, opposite aspects of the third (left-over) drive as a Sub-drive.

In the movie “Ravenous”...
Proponent – Captain Boyd
  • Main drive: Emotion Driven ("Why is this Happening to me?")
  • Sub-drive: Action Driven in the aspect of Refusal to Act.
Adversary – Calhoun
  • Main drive: Motive Driven ("I will Make something Happen.")
  • Sub-drive: Action Driven in the aspect of Determined to Act.
Circumstances force the “Hero” to become the Third drive, while the "Villain” resists this change in drives.

The Villain's Inability to Change is why the Villain LOSES to the Hero.

Never forget:

Reality may be full of Random events – but
Fiction MUST make Sense.

Morgan Hawke
www.darkerotica.net
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Essentials of a Short Story



The Essentials of a Short Story
Edgar Allen Poe - 1837
Raped from a critique of Hawthorn’s Twice Told Tales
Edgar Allen Poe, celebrated as one of the finest short fiction writers of all time, was also a literary critic. These are bits of his wisdom on writing short stories, gleaned from one of his critiques.

“The true critic will but demand that that the (story’s) design intended be accomplished, to the fullest extent, by the means most advantageously applicable…" -- Poe

Poe’s Prerequisites -- in a Nutshell:
To deliver fullest satisfaction, a short story should be structured:
1) To be perused in an hour.
2) Conceived with deliberate care toward a single effect.
3) With words restrained in style and tone.
4) All done that should be done, with nothing done which should not be.

Poe’s Prerequisites -- in DETAIL
A short story should be structured:
1) To be perused in an hour.
“Were we bidden to say how the highest genius (of the short story) could be most advantageously employed for the best display of (the short story’s) own powers, we should answer, without hesitation- in the composition of a rhymed poem, not to exceed in length what might be perused in an hour.” -- Poe

Translation:

How much can YOU read in an hour (or two)? A short story should be no longer.

According to TODAY'S publishing standards, this means no more than 15k, (15,000 words) or 60 NY publishing formatted pages. (60 pages at 12 point courier font, on an 8.5” by 11” page with 1” margins, are counted as 250 words per page, regardless of actual word count.) 20k, or 80 NY publishing formatted pages, is commonly considered a Novella.

Keep in mind, EVERY publisher has their own requirements. For example, Magazine publishers tend to look for 5k stories, (5,000 words) or 20 NY publishing formatted pages.

ALWAYS read the SUBMISSION GUIDELINES for each individual Publisher -- before submitting anything!


2) Conceived with deliberate care toward a single effect.
“A skillful literary artist has a constructed tale. If wise, he has not fashioned his thoughts to accommodate his incidents; but having conceived, with deliberate care, a certain unique or single effect to be wrought out, he then invents such incidents- he then combines such events as may best aid him in establishing this preconceived effect. If his very initial sentence tends not to the out-bringing of this effect, then he has failed in his first step.” -- Poe

Translation:
Plot the damned thing out, every character, every incident, with a single Purpose in mind, a Premise.

You DON'T think up an event, and then decide what you're going to do with it -- you consider what you want to Say First -- and then craft your characters and incidents to illustrate the point you are trying to make.

Why are YOU saying with your story?
What are you trying to Show?

• The reality of Love? – Romeo & Juliet
• The pain of Jealousy? - Othello
• The results of Revenge? - Hamlet
• The path of Ambition? - Julius Caesar

What kinds of Characters and Events will it take to make your point? What needs to happen to illustrate what you want to say?

PLOTTING is Good for you!
Plotting is essential in all forms of fiction for cohesion. Plotting ensures that your cool idea has all the important bits needed to be a full-blown STORY, such as: a beginning, a middle, and an end. It keeps you from missing something vital – or putting something in that does not belong.

Side-tracked by a really cool subplot?
Does it fit with the theme of what you are trying to accomplish?
  • If it does – GREAT! Is there enough room for it? (What kind of word-count limit are you dealing with?)
  • If it doesn’t – GREAT! You have the makings of a whole new story! (Chop it out and make a whole new document file just for it.)
However, Plotting does NOT have to be a chapter by chapter outline; it can be a short list of just the important bits:

A Plot Arc
(for an Erotic Romance)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Introduction
Early trouble, revealing the character's talents and setting
Boy meets Girl, Adversary meets Proponent…

Rising Action
Increasing tension - crisis after crisis
One succeeds in pissing off the other.

Climax / Reversal
Point of highest tension & the story's turning point
One succeeds in seducing the other & something happens to mess everything up.

Falling Action
All plot threads unravel leaving only one solution
Motives & all other angsty secrets are uncovered, revealing the REAL problem.

Confrontation
Final choice, ending in hope or ruin
Love is declared, choices are made, sides are chosen; the final battle is enjoined

Denouement
Resolution
Boy & Girl’s happily ever after…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


3) Using words restrained in style and tone.
“The author who aims at the purely beautiful in a prose tale is laboring at great disadvantage. For Beauty can be better treated in the poem. Not so with terror, or passion, or horror, or a multitude of such other points.” -- Poe

Translation:

Hunks of sweeping, emotionally blissed-out, text is generally SKIPPED in favor of: “What happens next?” The only place for fancy words is in Description.

Why? Because in this day and age, the average book-store browsing Reader does not have the patience to read fancy prose. Think I'm kidding? In this very article, how many of you have been skipping over Poe's literary-heavy quotes to get to the Translations? (Retorical Question! You are not expected to answer!)

Seriously, no matter what genre you write, the average Buying Reader reads with a TV-Watcher's attention span (about the same as a 12-year old) because the average Buying Reader of every genre, grew up watching TV.

THINK: How long is a TV program? Sit-coms are half an hour. Actual programs are an hour - two at the most. Your story has to fit into a TV-program slot -- and compete with the next program they plan to watch.

As a rule, only the college-heavy teacher-types read literary prose for pleasure. Everybody else (the BUYING public) reads pulp fiction.

DESCRIPTION is a MUST in Modern Fiction!
Our modern-day, TV-addict readers are trained (by their TV-watching,) to be VISUALLY stimulated. These readers PICTURE their stories as they read them, and expect enough description to be able to make those mind-pictures crystal clear – AND emotionally visceral.

They not only want to SEE it – they want to FEEL it too -- but they don't have much of an attention span, so every word must count!

Description should be trimmed down to:
Distinct nouns rather than Vague nouns: Toyota instead of car.
1 Adjective per Distinct Noun The red Toyota
2 Adjectives per Sensation – smell, taste, texture, sound, view – “I saw a dilapidated red Toyota.”
2 Adjectives per Emotion – anger, lust, love, joy, misery – “The bitter ache in my weary heart…”

4) All done that should be done
--With nothing done which should not be.
“In the whole composition there should be no word written, of which the tendency, direct or indirect, is not to the one pre-established design. And by such means, with such care and skill, a picture is at length painted which leaves in the mind of him who contemplates it with a kindred art, a sense of the fullest satisfaction.” --Poe

Translation:
Give every character, object, event…, a Purpose -- a Reason to be there.

Don’t just throw something in the story for decoration, like a sex scene, or a piano in the living room. Make that piano, or that love affair, IMPORTANT to the story. Make something happen Because they had sex. Make something happen Because they played the piano.

This is more commonly known as:
The “Gun on the Mantelpiece” rule of Fiction
“If a gun is shown on the mantelpiece in Chapter One, it better go off by Chapter Three – and there had better be a damned good reason for that gun to go off.”

Applied to Erotic Romance:
“If a Kiss is shown in the living room in Chapter One, Sex better happen by Chapter Three – and there had better be a damned good reason for that Sex to happen.”

The trick to knowing what to include in any story – is whether or not you intend to actively USE it. If the character trait or object does not matter to the plot – skip it. If it doesn’t Actively MOVE the Plot, (even a teeny bit,) you don’t need to notice it.

The shorter the story the LESS room you have to work with, so the only details that you need are what actually Changes the plot. Even with character details. If that detail has no bearing on the plot, you don’t need it.

In Conclusion…

Poe’s Prerequisites – Translated
A short story should be Plotted:
1) No more than 15,000 words.
2) With a Beginning, Middle, End, and a Point in mind.
3) For a TV-watcher’s visually oriented (12-year old) attention span.
4) Using only what is needed to make your point, and complete the story.

Morgan Hawke
www.darkerotica.net
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In Memoriam:

Aevum brevis, ars aeternum…

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Birthday Present from Dakota Cassidy!

From Dakota Cassidy!
(posted with permission)
Hookay, so I've known Morgan from AK's list. She cracked me up and she was warm and welcoming to me. We finally met at RT 2006 and we've been buds since. She's this wee little thing with red hair and a mean set of hips. I know, cuz she belly danced for me on the dance floor at RT.
She helped me plot a book that was just out recently and I don't care if she doesn't want the credit--she did too help. LOL. She also helped me a bit with some BDSM aspects in another book too.
In essence, she's da’bomb and she knows how to play. She's outrageously risqué, funny, a plotting genius, a friend who will talk me down from a ledge for hours on the phone and I love her. Morgan is good to the soul kind’a people and as much as she wants her own success, she wants her friends too and that's what makes Morgan a genuine, rare gift in this dog-eat-dog world of publishing and I'm ever grateful I found her.
This one's for you, babe :)

Morgan’s Birthday Present
Red of hair
A petite firecracker
Morgan Hawk
No writing slacker
(Oooh, I was worried I wouldn't be able to rhyme firecracker--good, huh? LOL)
Floggers, leather
Bondage delights
kick ass and funny
responds to my plight
(I'm telling you, I e-mail her and whine and she calls me up. She's like my therapist now. LOL)
Sex that virtually smokes
Plots that engage
Refreshing and open
Has no qualms about society's gauge
(I don't mean she doesn't have manners. I just mean she doesn't care what anyone says if it's mean and it's about ME. She likes me anyway LMAO)
Sci-fi, demons
Brilliantly done
Writes a helluva a book
And then some
A good friend to me
When I'm in plot hell
Uplifting and inspiring
As my friend she sells
To you, my friend
Loyal and true
May life always be kind
Always a hoot
On this your birthday
I wish you some Tex-mex
(I don't know if she likes Tex-mex, but it works in the poem. So go with me, okay? LOL)
And then, for inspiration
Some wicked, hot sex
(See? I always come through...LOL)
Happy Birthday, dear friend
My wish for you
Many more years of happiness
With us in your crew

Happy Birthday, doll!!
Love and kisses,
Dakota :)


Isn’t she just the coolest Ever? Wow…(Sniff… Whaaaaaaaaaa!)
Morgan Hawke
(Still looking for the tissues…)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
www.darkerotica.net

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Muse



Prayer to the Muse
Calliope, oh, mistress of the pen,
Fair whisperer of the writer’s mien.
You give to us dreams, both dark and bright,
And the kiss of inspiration’s might.

You brush us with swift lightning’s force,
As we write epics of passion's course.
To you we keep our sacred duty,
To write of life’s dark shadowed beauty

All we ask, oh literary muse,
Is time to complete our written dues.
Keep us from the heart diminished,
And leave us not with work unfinished.

May we hold firmly the pen sublime,
That we might finish before deadline.
And keep your kiss upon our brow,
That we may write unto the final bow.

Morgan Hawke
(Believe it or not, this puppy is Original -- by Me!)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Dear Morgan ~ How can anyone write a WHOLE Novel?


Morgan Hawke
~ Mad, Bad, and Dangerously in the Know!
----- Original Message -----
"Dear Morgan
- My question is: how can anyone write a whole novel? It's too huge, there's too much to figure out, and too much to do! How does anyone keep up the pace and keep going to actually finish? And then when you're done with the first draft, what if you realize you don't know how to do story tension and the characters have changed and you have to start all over again? Why would anyone want to do all that WORK?"
- Disillusioned Author
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Disillusioned,
- Lets do this one bit at a time...

Figuring out what to put in a Novel
I don't have any problems figuring out what to write in my novels because I plot out the entire book scene by scene. How do I do that?

Plotting begins by understanding that although there are a million variations, Every story follows the same basic pattern:

A basic Plot Arc
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  1. Introduction - early trouble, revealing the character's talents and setting
  2. Rising Action - increasing tension - crisis after crisis
  3. Climax / Reversal - point of highest tension & the story's turning point
  4. Falling Actionall plot threads unravel leaving only one solution
  5. Confrontationfinal crisis, ending in hope or ruin
  6. Denouement - resolution
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
All You have to do is figure out what to put where.

Keeping up the Pace
The ONLY way to finish a book is with a well-developed Obsessive Compulsive habit. Basically you keep going till you're done. Sorry, but that's the only way to do it.

To maintain the flavor of a book through the months it takes to write it, I use specific movie soundtracks, (one book - one soundtrack).

Wrecked over Rewrites!
If you need to do a rewrite, then you DO IT, over and over again, until you get it RIGHT.

And if you can't get it right? Then you consider it Practice, shelve it, and go on to another project.

A practice story is NOT wasted! Practice is JUST as necessary as publication -- if not more so. How are you supposed to perfect your techniques if you don't experiment first? Practice is Valuable Experience! Ask any artist if THEY offer their drafts rather than take the time to polish their work.

It ALWAYS is in your best interests to Perfect your Craft BEFORE you submit! No matter what anyone says, you will be REMEMBERED by the editors that Turn you down! "Oh, it's her again. I'm not going to bother reading her, I remember her last manuscript..."

You only want to deliver your very best work, work that you can be proud of years into your successful career.

All that Work!
Why do "I" do all that work? I LOVE writing stories!

For me, the ACT of writing is just as fulfilling (if not more so) than the completion of a book. I usually get a severe case of depression while finishing the last three chapters. I get so involved, I DON'T want to end the story.

If you don't think writing is the neatest, keenest, coolest thing you could possibly do with your time, then a Career in Fiction Writing may not be for you. It doesn't mean you shouldn't write -- writing is wonderfully fulfilling, everyone should do it! It just means that writing books that suit a publisher's needs may not be right for You.

Time to make an executive decision.

What is more crucial to your
-- Personal Writing Happiness?


Money?
- If money is what you're after, then you knuckle under and write what the publishers are asking for -- and you KEEP WRITING.

Writing for cash is an ongoing business. Sales only last for a LIMITED amount of time. (Once they have your book, why buy another?) To keep that cash flow steady, you MUST write another book Before your sales dip -- and then another, and another...

Fame?
- You're screwed. Only a tiny handful of authors achieve fame. No really...

THINK: how many authors can you name off the top of your head? (No cheating and looking at your bookshelf.)

Now, ask your closest relative, how many authors They can name? Do you honestly think you can compete with the authors THEY list? Hell, do you honestly think you can compete with the authors YOU listed? (I know I can't compare with my favorite authors -- but I don't care.)Truthfully? If you're looking for Fame -- get into Acting, because writing isn't going to get you there. Seriously.

Writing a damned good Story?
- BRAVO! Go for it! There are ALWAYS places to publish a damned good story. It may not get you any money, and fame as you know, is iffy to begin with -- but to the writer that loves to Write, successfully writing a damned good story is reward enough!


Morgan Hawke
www.darkerotica.net
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Smut-Writer - and Damned Proud of it!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Emotional Conflict & PLOT!

PLOT ARC - The events that happen while the characters make other plans.
CHARACTER ARC - The emotional roller-coaster that the character suffers while dealing with the Plot.

NO CONFLICT = No Character Depth
I’m sure, most of you have noticed by now that far too many movie characters, and many book characters, are One-Dimensional. The characters DO stuff, but they don’t face any real personal issues: a hang-up, a fear, paranoia, a moral code, a love interest, a strong dislike…

Without hang-ups to deal with, and face down, those characters are not PEOPLE. They’re pretty card-board cutouts moving around on a pretty stage. They're EMPTY.

Or worse – they DO have issues, but those issue are never faced in the story.

The rule of Mystery Fiction states:
“If the gun is shown in Chapter One, it better go off by Chapter Three -- and there had better be a damned good reason for that gun to be there.”

The Rule of Erotic Fiction:
“If the Kiss is shown in Chapter One, the Sex better happen by chapter three -- and there had better be a damned good reason for that Kiss to be there.”

These rules should apply in ANYTHING you put in a story, no matter what it is: a situation, an object, a person... If you have it in the story – you better have a use for it, and that use had better turn the plot.

If your Character has a Hobby, a Pet, a Family, a JOB -- you need to show that character involved with those things, and those things effecting the plot in some way shape or form.

If you DON’T, you’ve just made a PLOT HOLE, and I guarantee that someone will not only See it, they’ll call you on it. It could be a fan who writes you a concerned letter, “Whatever happened with…?” or worse, a Reviewer read by thousands.

That includes a character's PERSONAL Issues.

Adding CONFLICT to your story.

The best way to give your characters greater dimension is to put them in conflict – with EACH OTHER.

Let’s start this lecture with a HUGE secret:

There are Three Essential Characters in Every Story --
  • Adversary – The one causing all the trouble.
  • Proponent – The one trying to keep things the way they are.
  • Ally (Middle-man) – The close companion of one or the other.
Translation: You can tell any story with ONLY these Three Characters; perhaps not with any real detail, but you could still do the entire basic plotline.

-- And each essential character is governed by One of three SPECIFIC aspects, or Drives:
  • MOTIVE - Driven by a REASON to get involved and stir things up, such as Revenge.
  • ACTION - Driven by the need to ACT, usually because they've been pushed into it.
  • EMOTION - Driven by an EMOTIONALLY Impulsive Reaction that makes them leap before they look.
There may be any number of side characters, but in traditional Adventures and Romances of every stripe (erotic or not,) the main conflict is always a triangle of these complimentary opposite drives. Just to make things Truly confusing, the Hero, the Heroine, and the Villain can be any one of them!

Why does this matter?
- To really make your Proponent shine -- the Adversary and the Ally should have Physical and Mental traits that go AGAINST the Proponent’s traits!

In a medieval-style RPG, role-playing game, you will often see a hulking Paladin Knight (an ACTION-driven character,) paired with a slender but highly dexterous Elvish bowman, or knife-throwing Thief, (an EMOTION-Driven character,) and a physically weak but highly intelligent and powerful Mage, (a MOTIVE-Driven character). Each of the three characters possesses traits that overlap to cover most monstrous encounters, and their strong differences in temperament, make for very lively chit-chat in between.

By the way, RPG books on Character Creation are a great way to dig up mental and physical traits for characters!

How this works:

If you have a tough-guy, kick-ass Proponent, like Riddick in Pitch Black, make damned sure that your kick-ass Proponent has a handicap your other characters can take advantage of – such the inability to see in ordinary light.

Make the Plot work AGAINST him by putting him in situations where his handicap can be used against him, (at least twice,) rendering him helpless and in PHYSICAL DANGER - each time.

Don’t forget to force him to expose his emotional soft spota hang-up, a fear, a paranoia, a moral code, a love interest, a strong dislike – at least twice, putting him in EMOTIONAL danger each time.

Use the PLOT against them!
To really torque your Characters, make your Events CONFLICT with one of your characters' physical and / or mental hang-up at least TWICE - each!

A well-placed REVERSAL (where everything that Can go wrong DOES,) throws your characters right into Looming Danger, forcing them off the straight-line path to the goal they’ve chosen and onto a path to a different goal. This is more commonly known as the Plot-Twist.


Making Issues HAPPEN in a Story

My Issue/Plot Template
A Cheat-Sheet for adding Emotional Conflict to the Plot
In the movie: Secretary
The Mirrored Issue: (Opposing reflections of the same issue.) Dealing with Emotional Pain
Her Issue: She uses Physical Pain, she hurts herself, to relieve her Emotional Pain.
His Issue: He uses Physical Pain as a disciplinary tool to relieve his Emotional Pain.

The PREMISE: LOVE

Introduction
0 – Alarm - Encounter
Boy meets Girl – Mirrored Issues trigger Emotional Conflict
A wonderful typist, but otherwise clueless, girl becomes a secretary for a dominating, but soft-hearted, lawyer.

Inciting Event
1 - Denial - Situation
Response to Emotional Conflict exposes Issues.
Her desire to please her boss drives her to cut her clothing, and later wound herself, as punishment for not pleasing him. Horrified by her “self-punishment” he demands that she stop her self-destructive behavior.

An emotional bond develops between them.

Defiance
2 - Antagonism - Dilemma
Issues instigate a Dilemma prompting a Fight/Flight response
She goes on a date and is seen by her Lawyer. The lawyer’s emotional conflict (his growing feelings for her,) drives him to begin disciplining her at work, beginning with a spanking for a typing mistake.

The secretary discovers that his spanking brings her an emotional release and a deeper emotional connection to her lawyer. She begins to encourage his discipline by making more mistakes.

Reversal
3 - Bargaining – Crisis(Worst Case Senario)
Conditional compliance to resolve Dilemma
Despite the fact that his secretary is blooming right before his eyes, the lawyer sees his disciplinary behavior as being destructive. He decides that his behavior is wrong and stops.

Declaration
4 – Despair - Panic
Disaster strikes bringing Emotional Consequences - Issues Surface
Desperate to get her lawyer to discipline her, and give her the emotional connection she craves, she makes mistake after mistake until finally, she mails him a worm, (he truly hates bugs,) literally mailing him a demand to be punished.

The lawyer cannot resist her demand, she's pushed one button too many to ignore, and discovers that he cannot stop disciplining her, (she won’t let him,) and fires her.

Ordeal
5 - Sacrifice – Breaking Point
Desperation forces confrontation of Issues & Emotional Conflict
Her boyfriend proposes marriage. Out of guilt over HIS feelings for her, and pain at losing her lawyer, she agrees. In her wedding dress, she realizes that she does not love her boyfriend, she loves her lawyer.

Confrontation
6 - Acceptance - Resignation
Acceptance of Issues presents solution to Crisis.
In her wedding dress, she confronts her lawyer. She demands that he love her. He insists that what he’s doing is wrong. She insists that it’s not, that it’s just a different kind of love. They belong together.

He demands that she sit at his desk – with her hands flat on the surface -- until he comes for her. It’s a test. He doesn’t believe that she could possibly love him and figures she'll give up before it goes too far.

Resolution
0 – Resolution - Conclusion
Emotional Conflict resolved - Relationship secured
She doesn't give up. He's far too important to her. She sits at his desk for days, dealing with family and friends about her personal choices concerning who she loves, and why.

The lawyer has been monitoring her progress the entire time and realizes that she does love him, just as he is and for what he is. He comes for her. Happily ever after – for them.

WHY Issues???
In my opinion, good fiction, no matter the genre, presents us with characters dealing with a basic human issue. This 'Issue' permeates a story and is the story's heart. Every character should face this ONE issue and either succeed or fails when they get there - presenting different results to the core argument (issue) that is the Premise.

A story's Premise = the human ISSUE being addressed

Once upon a time in ancient Greece, the plays of Greek theatre were used as Therapy. The stories were all lessons dealing with the basic drives of human nature - love, hate, jealousy, greed, abandonment... (Ahem - ISSUES.)

The old Greek plays were gut-wrenching for a reason, they were trying to make the viewer FEEL what was happening enough to laugh out loud, scream with rage, or burst into tears, experiencing a therapeutic cathartic release.

This is where the word 'Catharsis' comes from: Greek Theatre.

In modern fiction, when a story's core issue is addressed we feel a release, laughter, anger or tears. If the story does not wrap up the core 'issue', negatively or positively, we feel instinctively cheated - because that sense of relief or release is Missing.

Don't cheat your readers! Make sure to give your story plenty of conflict by giving your characters ISSUES to solve -- a PREMISE.


Morgan Hawke
www.darkerotica.net
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
MORE?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Dear Morgan ~ Why do I need CONFLICT in my story?


Morgan Hawke
~ Mad, Bad, and Dangerously in the Know!
----- Original Message -----
"Dear Morgan, I got this comment from one of my critique partners:

- "This is a nice clean sexy romp. But this needs to be more than just a nice clean romp. Your characters need to be a bit more troubled. You need more Conflict, as in: there needs to be more to this story than just: 'Am I going to get laid?'"

Which has me thinking, I have a plot...why do I need Troubled Characters and Conflict in my story?
-- Concerned Erotica Writer

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Concerned,
- From the sounds of this, your Plot is: "Boy & Girl Get Laid". That's all well and fine for a Penthouse letter, but it's not a STORY. "What Happens to the Characters BECAUSE they Got Laid", is a Story.

When your characters don't have 'troubles' or 'conflict' you don't have any DRAMA -- your characters Don't have a Character Arc.

PLOT ARC - The events that happen while the characters make other plans.
CHARACTER ARC – The emotional roller-coaster that the character suffers because of the Plot.

Character Arc = Personal DRAMA
Personal DRAMA = ANGST

Why ANGST?
-- A Story needs ACTION to be Interesting.
But~! A Story needs DRAMA to be Riveting.
Stories are all about Characters CHANGING; about Adapting and Overcoming circumstancing that should take them down. The Proponent and the Adversary change and develop as the story progresses to allow the Proponent a toe-hold chance - and no more - to win.

Changing takes SUFFERING. Both the Proponent and the Adversary should suffer emotionally and physically to allow for their personal changes. Think about how hard it is for YOU to change your mind about liking or disliking anyone. What would it take to change your mind? That's the level of suffering - of Angst - you need.

The difference between the Proponent and the Adversary is the Adversary’s failure to change. The Adversary fails to face his fears, which allows the Proponent to take him down. The rest of the cast may or may not have personal growth, but the Proponent and the Adversary must. This is where dramatic tension is generated.

Drama! Drama! Drama!
What causes ANGST?

(Breaks out the text-book …)
"Angst is caused by a change of circumstance that produces a feeling of loss. This triggers the reaction of grief. The intensity of the grief depends on the importance of what has been lost. If the loss is perceived as minor,
("Oops, I forgot my keys!") then the moment of grief will be minimal and barely felt. However, unresolved and severe loss (a loved one,) can lead to mental, physical, and sociological problems."

Cool huh?

“That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.” – Nietzsche

NO ANGST = No Character Depth
I’m sure, most of you have noticed by now that far too many movie characters, and many book characters, are One-Dimensional. The characters DO stuff, but they don’t face any real personal issues: a hang-up, a fear, paranoia, a moral code, a love interest, a strong dislike…

Without hang-ups to deal with, and face down, those characters are not PEOPLE. They’re pretty card-board cutouts moving around on a pretty stage. They're EMPTY.

Or worse – they DO have issues, but those issues are never faced in the story. They're just...quirks, there, as a decoration. They're gratuitous.

WARNING! - Incoming RANT!
NOTHING should EVER be Gratuitous!
- If it's important enough to be IN the story, it's important enough to be PART of the story!

The rule of Mystery Fiction states:
“If the gun is shown in Chapter One, it better go off by Chapter Three -- and there had better be a damned good reason for that gun to be there.”

The Rule of Erotic Fiction:
“If the Kiss is shown in Chapter One, the Sex better happen by chapter three -- and there had better be a damned good reason for that Kiss to be there.”

These rules should apply in ANYTHING you put in a story. No matter what it is: a situation, an object, a person... if you have it in the story – you better have a use for it, and that use had better turn the plot.

If your Character has a Hobby, a Pet, a Family, a JOB -- you need to show that character involved with those things, and those things effecting the plot in some way shape or form.

If you have a piano in the character's living room, someone better play it sometime in the story -- and make something HAPPEN because it was played.

If you DON’T, you’ve just made a PLOT HOLE, and I guarantee that someone will not only See it, they’ll call you on it. It could be a fan who writes you a concerned letter, “Whatever happened with…?” or worse, a Reviewer read by thousands.

EVERYTHING noted should have a use in your story -- that includes a character's PERSONAL Issues.

No Personal Issues = No Personal Drama
No Personal Drama = BORING Story

If you are determined to skip the Drama, then you better have a hell of a lot of ACTION to make up for it! (Think: James Bond. Lots of action -- but no character growth what so ever.)

Wanna know More about Character Arcs?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
For the nitty-gritty details on Building a Character Arc, Go to:
Building the Character Arc - Angst Glorious Angst!

For a Cheat-Sheet on Plotting with the Character Arc, Go to:
Emotional Conflict & PLOT!


Morgan Hawke
www.darkerotica.net
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Smut-Writer - and Damned Proud of it!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

High Speed Plotting!


("Greyer Grey" by Royo)
Three Questions ~ A Quick & Dirty Plotting Trick
(Shamelessly stolen from Paperback Writer's blog.)
The easiest way for me to craft a story at top speed is by picking my characters then deciding on the Final Climactic Scene. I plot the rest of the story to make that scene happen.

How do I START with Characters?
- I ask Three Questions:
1 - What are you, and what do you do?
2 - What do you want?
3 - What's the worst possible thing that could happen to you?

In Action -

1 - I am a Spy and I steal secrets from my enemies.
2 - I want to destroy my enemy.
3 - Convince me that I've been working on the wrong side all along.

1 - I'm a Vampire and a predator.
2 - I need blood to live.
3 - Make me fall in love with the one person I will destroy with my appetites.

"Three Questions" is the simplest plotting method out there, and one of the most useful for short stories. The main character’s "worst possible thing" gives me the Ordeal, the darkest moment in the story leading to the climactic battle of the Resolution. I arrange the rest of the story, the PLOT, to get them to that moment.

When you're writing a Novel, these same questions should be used to outline the drives and motives of ALL THREE of your main characters: Adversary, Proponent and Ally, (Protagonist / Antagonist / Obstacle Character, or more simply, Hero / Heroine / Villain.)

Once you know the answers to these questions for all three main characters, you have your entire story. Combining the "worst possible thing" for each of them creates your story's Darkest Moment (or Ordeal). The Inciting Event, (what starts the story rolling,) comes from "who they are, and what they do." Your Resolution. comes from "what they want".

"Three Questions" An Example
Leon: The Professional
1 - What are you, and what do you do?
2 - What do you want?
3 - What's the worst possible thing that could happen to you?

Proponent
1 - I am a kid and my family has just been killed.
2 - I need to destroy my enemy – before he destroys me.
3 – Find me the perfect assassin – but make him too honorable to allow a kid to kill.

Ally
1 - I am a professional assassin. I don’t kill kids or women.
2 - I want to do my jobs and remain hidden from the police.
3 – Have me take pity on a kid and hide her from her family’s killers, but make her determined to exact revenge – against the police. Oh, and make her a loud-mouth too.

Adversary
1 - I am a crooked (and happily insane,) cop.
2 - I need to protect my secrets.
3 – Make the one person that knows my secrets a child – with a professional assassin for her guardian.

Inciting Event
Escaping the murder of her family, 12-year old Mathilda takes refuge in the apartment next door, with Leon, a professional assassin.

Ordeal / Dark Moment
Having learned how to handle a gun, Mathilda trails the cop that murdered her family all the way to the precinct to kill him -- but she’s never actually killed anyone before.

Resolution
The police track Mathilda back Leon’s, and all hell breaks loose.

3 Questions -- In Erotic Fiction
To BE Erotic Fiction the SEX must turn the Plot, so everything shifts - Character AND Plot to make the Sex Scenes count.

The Difference between EROTIC & EROTICA

Too many people seem to think that Erotica is any story with Sex in it. This is FAR from the Truth. A story with sex in it may be Erotic - but it is not EROTICA.

Erotica is NOT defined by how Much sex you have in the story - but WHERE you put the sex -- and WHY.
  • An EROTIC story has sex in it.
  • EROTICA is a story where the PLOT hinges on Sexual Events.
  • EROTIC ROMANCE is a story where Plot-Turning Sexual Events maps the progress of the Love Relationship DURING an Adventure.
In the average vampire story, the vampire's NEED for blood is the lynchpin for the entire plot. Whether or not he succeeds in getting that blood from the other characters rules every major turning point in the plot.
  • If the vampire has sex - then the plot is erotic.
  • If the vampire has to have sex to drink the blood he needs, then the story becomes Erotica.
  • If the vampire has to have sex to drink the blood he needs, and falls in love with his donor, and THEN has bad guys to deal with to protect his new love, then the story becomes Erotic Romance.
To use the “Three Questions” in Erotic Fiction, the answer to one (or more) of those questions should be SEXUAL.

1 - What are you, and what do you do?
2 - What do you want?
3 - What's the worst possible thing that could happen to you?

In Action -

1 - I am a Kinky Dom and I like extreme forms of SEXUAL DISCIPLINE.
2 - I want a lover that needs the type of SEX I like to give.
3 - Convince me that my lover would be better off without my sexual appetites interfering in their lives.

The PLOT would revolve around their problems Accepting their unusual sexuality, and then fitting their love into an acceptable life -- together.

By the way, this is the plot for the movie: Secretary

The BIG Secret:
The Smaller the cast – the Shorter the story.
By focusing on only THREE main characters, you keep your story TIGHT. You won’t get entangled in subplots that eat space and revision-time -- trying to chop them back out when you run over your word-count.


More on Plotting?
To BE Erotic Fiction - SEX has to drive the plot.
Quick & Dirty StoryCraft
Wrestling with Writing


Morgan Hawke
www.DarkErotica.Net
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

When the Hero is NOT a Hero

Protagonist & Antagonist
A Different Definition
(Fair Warning - this is a toughy!)
There are Three Essential Characters in Every Story. There may be any number of side characters, but in traditional Adventures, and Romances of every stripe (erotic or not,) the main conflict is usually, if not always, a triangle of complimentary opposites.

Translation: You could tell the WHOLE story with ONLY these Three Characters; perhaps not with any real detail, but you could still do the entire basic plotline.


THREE Characters?
Yep. I'm sure you're familiar with: Hero – Villain – Heroine (or Sidekick) already. Those are pretty darn standard. So, let’s define them in a more Literary, (and complicated,) fashion shall we?

Antagonist - Protagonist - Ally
ALLY? Who the heck is That?

The Secret Character
The Ally
Always there, though seldom named is: the Ally -- the Companion to the Hero. The ALLY's function is to be the Middle-Man, the nay-sayer that presents an opposing view to both the Hero and the Villain. The ALLY is the Obstacle Character who adds complications to the plot, making matters worse for both the Hero and the Villain, generally by getting in the way.

In Romances, this character is the Love Interest, in modern mainstream fiction, and tons of movies, this is the trouble-inducing Best Friend or Interfering Relative, (often a younger sibling). In traditional fiction, they were known as the Victim.

In ALL cases, this character's FATE turns the plot at the Climax, and more often than not, is the story’s VIEWPOINT CHARACTER.

The HEROINE
Lady Hero or just another Ally?
Traditionally, fictional Females were NOT allowed to hurt anybody, and they NEVER Killed anybody. The Heroine was not allowed to defeat her own Villain. Her male companion did all her dirty work for her. However, since only the Protagonist faces the Antagonist in the final battle, this made the Heroine’s male companion the actual Protagonist, and the Heroine – the most common viewpoint character in a Romance novel – the Ally or designated Victim.

Does the term: ‘Damsel in Distress’, ring any bells?

The Heroines in tradional stories served two purposes only:
  1. To get into trouble, so they could be Saved by the hero
  2. As a reward for the hero's heroic efforts.
(I know, I know... Don't gag on me.)

Lately, fictional Heroines have begun to defeat their Villains all by themselves, (Lara Croft anyone?) so that rule is changing. But it’s still not acceptable for the Heroine to battle the Villain in some arenas.

In Walt Disney’s Mulan, Mulan is clearly the viewpoint character and presented as the story’s Protagonist, and yet Walt Disney still made her male companion, Mushu, the story’s Comic Relief character, take out the Villain – not her, (or her designated Hero!)

In Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Belle is the clearly the viewpoint character and presented as the story’s Protagonist, and yet Walt Disney still made her male companion, Beast, take out the Villain – not her.

However, in Tomb Raider, Lara Croft not only does her own butt-kicking, she frequently rescues everyone else!

Antagonist - Protagonist - Ally
AND
Hero - Companion - Villain?
Who is supposed to be What?

Well, that depends -- on the character's ACTIONS in the story, and their effect on the PLOT. Lets look at some literary Definitions that came from one of the ancient Greeks, Aristotle to be exact. (*Based on Aristotle's “Elements of a Greek Tragedy”.)
ANTAGONIST: Traditionally the Villain, the one causing all the trouble. (Anti = against: “The one who struggles AGAINST.”)*
PROTAGONIST: Traditionally the Hero, trying to keep the Antagonist at bay and keep things the way they are. (Pro = for: “The one who struggles FOR.”)*
ALLY: In Greek Tragedies, this character was the designated Victim of the Protagonist's poor judgment whose fate brought on the tragic ending, OR the Only Survivor, who played official witness to the heroic struggle between the Antagonist and the Protagonist. They "Lived to tell the Tale."
In modern fiction, ANY of these three character positions can operate under ANY of the three drives, (Motive - Action - Emotion,) and the Protagonist does NOT necessarily have to be the story's Hero -- just who the story is ABOUT.

Additionally, the Viewpoint Character, the one telling the story, does NOT have to be the Protagonist. In fact, it's very traditional for the ALLY to be the story's Narrator -- not the Protagonist.


“But I thought that the Protagonist was always the Main Character?”
In the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Watson was the Viewpoint Character, he told the stories, and yet those stories were all about Holmes who solved the mysteries and faced all the villains. Holmes was obviously the Protagonist; making Watson the Ally.

The Problem with
Protagonist
In a story’s Grand Finale, the Antagonist & Protagonist do battle, and ‘winner take all’. Therefore, the one character who does battle with the Antagonist is, by definition, the Protagonist, (and vice versa.)

BUT ~ No one wants to think of the Protagonist as being anything other than the Main Viewpoint Character, whether or not they do battle with the Antagonist. Literary Scholars don't like their definitions changed. Unfortunately their educated opinions are not having any effect on the characters appearing in modern Fiction -- such as the Anti-Hero, Honorable Villain and the Heroic Ally.

In Moby Dick, the main character Ishmael, is commonly thought of as being the Protagonist because he told the story. However, Ishmael did NOT do battle with the white whale – Captain Ahab did, therefore Ishmael was NOT the Protagonist at all.

Then… What was Ishmael?

Moby Dick
A CLASSIC Greek Tragedy

Aristotle’s Elements of a Tragedy, in short:
  1. The reversal of the protagonist's fortune is brought on by a personal flaw.
  2. The eventual recognition by the protagonist of this tragic flaw
  3. The resulting moral consequences of their actions.
  4. The final moral re-affirmation of the audience -- delivering catharsis.
  • Protagonist = Main or Central Character. “The one who struggles FOR.”
  • Antagonist = Obstacle to the Protagonist. “The one who struggles AGAINST.” The obstacle that stands in the way of the protagonist.
In Moby Dick – The White Whale was minding his own business when Captain Ahab attacked him the first time. Seriously pissed off, the whale ate Ahab’s leg. Ahab of course, declares revenge against the monster.

And Ishmael? He's not there yet. This is the Back Story, all the stuff that happened before Ishmael stepped on Ahab's ship for the first time.

The story Moby Dick is all about Captain Ahab’s struggles with the white whale, making AHAB the main character – though no one I know would ever call him Heroic or a Protagonist.

From: Aristotle’s Elements of a Tragedy
Harmatia = Fatal flaw of the Protagonist. In a classical tragedy, the protagonist falls from a great position of power due to a flaw in their character, usually an emotional instability, like pride (hubris), in the case of Oedipus.

In Moby Dick – Ahab’s overwhelming pride – “I WILL kill that whale”, cause him to pit his ship, and the lives of his men, against a monster far too big for him. The Whale’s thirst for revenge is also driven by Pride.

The Whale and Ahab BOTH have the same flaw; a VERY traditional trademark of the Protagonist and Antagonist.

From: Aristotle’s Elements of a Tragedy
Peripetia = Reversal of Fortune. The reversal of fortune that besets the protagonist and is intended to elicit our pathos. our pity, and sympathy.

In Moby Dick – Ahab finds the white whale (again minding his own business,) and attacks. The Reversal happens when the whale obviously realizes who is attacking him, and goes after Ahab, attacking the part of the ship Ahab occupies.

From: Aristotle’s Elements of a Tragedy
Anagnorisis = Recognition of Deeds. When the protagonist understands that their plight has been brought about by their own harmatia.

In Moby Dick – Ahab’s ship is sinking, and his men are dying. He REALIZES that the whale has made Ahab a personal enemy – and it’s his Own Fault. If Anyone is to survive, he must face the whale HIMSELF.

From: Aristotle’s Elements of a Tragedy
Catharsis = Purgation of Pathos / Establishment of Ethos. A play is considered complete when the audience is cleansed morally or emotionally by the closure of the tragedy. The catharsis is intended to fortify the ethos, the cultural framework, of the audience.

In Moby Dick – Ahab dies and the whale goes away, leaving the survivors alone. Which proves that the whale had more honor than Ahab. The whale does not attack innocent bystanders -- unlike the insane sea captain.

And Ishmael? He's left behind, floating in the sea after witnessing the entire battle.

Aristotle in a Nutshell:
  1. Glorious Hero does something he really shouldn't do.
  2. Not-so-glorious Hero realizes that it's his own damned fault.
  3. Hero crashes and burns. (He dies, she dies, everybody dies...)
  4. The audience feels good because they didn’t make the protagonist’s mistakes.
So - who is the REAL Protagonist -- In Moby Dick?
  • In Moby Dick, the White Whale is fighting FOR his Life. He’s the Protagonist.
  • Ahab is fighting AGAINST the whale’s right to live. He’s the Antagonist.
So, what was Ishmael?
Ishmael did not agree with either the Whale, for its fierce attacks, or with Captain Ahab’s reasons for chasing Moby Dick. He possessed an opposing opinion to both. He was an Obstacle Character, but he worked for Ahab, technically putting him on Ahab’s side.

Ishmael did not affect the plot in any major way. He was merely an Observer, the official witness to the epic battle between the whale and the sea captain – he was the ALLY.

Moby Dick is a prime example of modern literature proving that Protagonists are Not always heroic, Antagonists are Not always the bad guys, and the designated Victim (the Ally,) is not always a damsel in distress – or even a Victim.

-- And yet, literary professionals INSIST that Ishmael is the Protagonist - on the grounds that Ishmael Told the Story, therefore he HAD to be a Main Character: the Protagonist.

Um... WRONG! (Go back and read your Aristotle, K?)


The accepted ‘literary’ definitions for Antagonist and Protagonist just don't FIT the modern day Anti-Hero, Honorable Villain and Heroic Ally.

But ~ No One wants to admit that a Protagonist might be the Villain, and an Antagonist might be the Hero – despite the reams of modern fiction and hundreds of popular movies that have such characters. It takes a PHD or a Master's Degree to change an educated opinion -- something I don't have the time to get. (I'm too busy writing Fiction.)

So, let’s go around that particular literary road-block and re-label those character positions a bit more closely to their sources -- according to *Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1)

Proponent – Adversary – Ally

ADVERSARYAnti-establishment; the main character attempting to go against the status quo, by breaking the rules of their society.
  • Definition: Opponent,
  • Synonyms: antagonist, attacker, bad guy, bandit, competitor, contestant, enemy, foe, match, opposer, rival
PROPONENT Pro-establishment; the main character in support of the status quo and the rules of their society.
  • Definition: Advocate
  • Synonyms: backer, champion, defender, enthusiast, exponent, expounder, friend, partisan, patron, protector, second, spokesperson, subscriber, supporter, upholder, vindicator
ALLYThe main supporter of one or the other; usually a lover. (It’s not unusual for both the Proponent and the Adversary to each have an Ally, but only one Ally actually turns the plot.)
  • Definition: Friend
  • Synonyms: accessory, accomplice, associate, co-worker, coadjutor, collaborator, colleague, confederate, friend, friendly, helper, partner
VILLAIN - The main Bad-Guy.
HERO
- The main character that faces the Bad-Guy at the climax.
COMPANION
- The Buddy, Love-interest, Friend, Victim, and official witness to the heroic struggle between the Hero and the Villain.

So, to answer our earlier question: Who is What?

Hero – Companion – Villain
Proponent – Adversary – Ally

The answer is: Take your pick. The three main characters can be ANY combination.

In the ‘Tomb Raider’ movie series...

Proponent Heroine
Adversary Villain
Ally Hero

Lara Croft is a Proponent Heroine with Adversarial Villains and Paramour Allies. (Nice and simple.)

Reversed Characters
Anti-Heroes vs. Heroic Villains
The one who has the most battles with the ADVERSARY is your PROPONENT. The one left over, and normally instigating a lot of the tension between the P&A, is your ALLY. This does not change. However, the labels: Hero and Villain are Interchangeable!

In the movie: The Crow...

Adversary Hero
Proponent Villain
Ally Heroine

Eric Draven was dead. He and his love were murdered. He came back from the Dead with a motive: to get revenge. He attacked the people that killed him and then the boss that sent them to kill him and his love. Eric was the Motive-driven ADVERSARY of this story – and yet the HERO too!

The Villain in this story was busy keeping order in his little Kingdom of Crime. Eric instigated a war between himself and the Ruler of the city. The Villain was bothered into defending himself against Eric. In this story, the Villain was the Action-Driven PROPONENT.

The Next-door neighbor girl, Nell didn’t want the Villain burning down her neighborhood – but she didn’t want Eric seeking revenge either, because she cared about him, he was her FRIEND.

Nell was the Emotion-Driven ALLY – the Middle-Man in opposition to both the Hero & the Villain. Like a true Middle-Man, she gets trapped between the Proponent and the Adversary in the Climax – as a Victim. Nell was also the Viewpoint Character. Most of the movie is shown from her POV, a trademark of an Ally.

In the movie: ‘Leon: The Professional’...

Adversary Heroine
Proponent Villain
Ally Hero

12-year-old HEROINE Mathilda, is looking for a safe haven from the very Villainous and temperamental Stansfield, a police officer, (a society-supporting PROPONENT,) that wiped out her family and intends to get her too. Mathilda takes matters into her own hands and bothers professional assassin Leon, into taking her in – and becomes his FRIEND.

Much of the story was filmed from Leon's POV -- trademark of an ALLY, additionally, Leon has the opposing opinion. Leon doesn't want her there, and doesn't want the attention of the police either. He tries to get her to keep her head down and forget, but Mathilda utterly refuses. She bullies him into teaching her how to use a gun because as far as she's concerned, she has a Reason to use one.

Like a true ADVERSARY she stalks Stansfield to his office fully intending to shoot him dead. Mathilda was obviously a Motive-Driven ADVERSARIAL HEROINE going after emotionally unstable Stansfield a PROPONENT VILLAIN. Like a true Middle-Man, Action-Driven Leon is caught between them.

However -- even though the entire plot for ‘Leon: The Professional’, was set up to let the Adversarial Heroine face her very personal Villain, the under-aged Heroine is taught to use a gun and other assassin's tools, the Anti-hero Ally ended up actually taking the villain out. I suspect that, at the very last second, someone changed their mind about letting a kid kill.

And the deciding factor for a story's Villain?
The Villain’s INABILITY to Change is what makes them the VILLAIN and the reason WHY they LOSE.

The Hero Crashes, Burns, Learns from his mistakes, and Rises Again.
The Villain merely Crashes and Burns. He does NOT learn from his mistakes. He does Not rise again.


Morgan Hawke
www.darkerotica.net
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~