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

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Buying a Computer ~ Starring: Abbott & Costello

Buying a Computer
Starring: Abbott & Costello
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
ABBOTT: Super Duper Computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinking about buying a computer.

ABBOTT: Mac?

COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou.

ABBOTT: Your computer?

COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.

ABBOTT: Mac?

COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou.

ABBOTT: What about Windows?

COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?

ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?

COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look at the windows?

ABBOTT: Wallpaper.

COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.

ABBOTT: Software for Windows?

COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?

ABBOTT: I just did.

COSTELLO: You just did what?

ABBOTT: Recommend something.

COSTELLO: You recommended something?

ABBOTT: Yes.

COSTELLO: For my office?

ABBOTT: Yes.

COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!

ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.

COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, let's just say I'm sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?

ABBOTT: Word.

COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: Word in Office.

COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?

ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue "W".

COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue "w" if you don't start with some straight answers. OK, forget that. Can I watch movies on the Internet?

ABBOTT: Yes, you want Real One.

COSTELLO: Maybe a real one, maybe a cartoon. What I watch is none of your business. Just tell me what I need!

ABBOTT: Real One.

COSTELLO: If it's a long movie, I also want to watch reels 2, 3 and 4. Can I watch them?

ABBOTT: Of course.

COSTELLO: Great! With what?

ABBOTT: Real One.

COSTELLO: OK, I'm at my computer and I want to watch a movie. What do I do?

ABBOTT: You click the blue "1".

COSTELLO: I click the blue one what?

ABBOTT: The blue "1".

COSTELLO: Is that different from the blue w?

ABBOTT: The blue "1" is Real One and the blue "W" is Word.

COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: But there are three words in "office for windows"!

ABBOTT: No, just one. But it's the most popular Word in the world.

COSTELLO: It is?

ABBOTT: Yes, but to be fair, there aren't many other Words left. It pretty much wiped out all the other Words out there.

COSTELLO: And that word is real one?

ABBOTT: Real One has nothing to do with Word. Real One isn't even part of Office.

COSTELLO: STOP! Don't start that again. What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?

ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.

COSTELLO: What's bundled with my computer?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?

ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.

COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?

ABBOTT: One copy.

COSTELLO: Isn't it illegal to copy money?

ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.

COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?

ABBOTT: Why not? THEY OWN IT!

(A few days later)

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?

ABBOTT: Click on "START"...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(Alas I have no clue who the true author is. So whoever you are, please forgive me for admiring your work.)

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

Dear Morgan ~ I'm lost in Copyright Legalese!


Morgan Hawke
~ Mad, Bad, and Dangerously in the Know!
----- Original Message -----
"Dear Morgan,
- Could you explain this to me? It was at the bottom of a 'call for submissions' from Xustler Xantasies.

- 'Rights to manuscripts sent to Xustler Xantasies will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes and as subject to our edits and editorial comments. No bestiality, rape, incest, male homosexuality, sex with minors, no simultaneous submissions, no excessive wordiness, please!'

- Lost in Copyright Legalese”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Lost,
- Copyright agreements and Contracts are always full of weird words and back to front sentence structure that makes the brain hurt and the eyes cross -- and it's DELIBERATE.

"Why do they make it so complicated to read?"
It's to disguise the fact that they've made the best deal for THEM -- not for you. Legalese is designed specifically, to make reader want to just scribble on the dotted line rather than bothering with trying to plow through it. However, once you sign your name:

What YOU don't see -- They can get away with!

Always remember, when dealing with a contract of any kind:

The more confusing it sounds, the more likely you are about to be SCREWED anally, without the benefit of lube, or even a reach-around.

If you plan to publish your work, you're going to deal with legalese, so brush up on your vocabulary -- and Latin -- you're going to need it. Contracts and Legalese go together like red on ketchup. There's just no getting away from it.

The TRANSLATION:
- All Rights to manuscripts sent to Xustler Xantasies will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes...
Translation - You SEND it to us and we OWN it -- FOREVER, whether or not we ever use it is not the point. You gave it to us -- it's OURS.

You can never give it to someone else to publish, you can never put it on your website, you certainly cannot post it to a story group, send it in an email, or show it off in any way, shape, or form, to anyone. You may as well erase it from your computer because it's not yours any more -- it's OURS.

If you are a professional writer, someone we can't screw with without a lawyer breathing down our necks, we'll even admit you sent it, and pay you for it -- about a month after it shows up in the magazine. If you're not a professional writer -- forget it. We never got it. One of our in-house writers simply came up with a story Just Like Yours. What a coincidence huh? Too bad for you.

...and as subject to our edits and editorial comments.
Translation - We can change it ANY WAY WE LIKE and not tell you about it. We don't even have to put your name on it -- because it's not yours anymore.

No bestiality, rape, incest, male homosexuality, sex with minors...
Translation - No sex with animals, no hate-sex, no man on man sex, no kids. We're a men's magazine that specializes in straight male fantasies. Our male readers don't like that stuff.

...no simultaneous submissions...
Translation - If you already sent it to someone else, don't send it to us. We can't keep it if someone else has it.

...no excessive wordiness, please!
Translation - Don't bother with being poetic, or putting in a complicated plot. Hell, don't bother with a plot beyond: "I wanted to get laid -- and I did!" We just want the sex and what a great time the characters had. That's what sells for us.

"Is $100.00 for a 5k* story I can never use again -- worth it?"
(*K=1000 words. A 5k story is about 6 pages, typed single-space, in 12 pt. font.)

For many professional writers, selling a 5k story for $100.00 IS worth it. If you can type fast, it can be very fast money. Most men's magazine will take a submission of three to five stories at a time, and accept them ALL. They are always hungry for well-written sex-positive Erotica.

Just keep in mind, Erotica and Erotic Romance are NOT the same thing! Erotic Romance publishers DO want a highly detailed plot in addition to hot sex, and don't forget the ROMANCE
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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