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The Theory of Story

The Theory of Story


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Published by Ramsubramani

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Ramsubramani on Jan 01, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Many authors are not aware that a Protagonist does not have to be the Main Char-
acter. When we stop to think about it, many examples come to mind of stories in which
we experience the story through the eyes of a character other than a Protagonist. Yet
when it comes to writing our own stories, many of us never diverge from a Protagonist/
Main combination.

There is nothing wrong with this combination. In fact, as long as both characters are
represented in the single player, such a blend is a fine Archetypal Character. The point
is: there are other ways.
Subjective Characters range from the Main Character with whom we identify to all
the "other soldiers in the trenches" around us as we experience the battle together.
They are friends and foes, mentors and acolytes. We see in them characteristics of
Worry, Instinct, Experience and Doubt. Rather than functioning as approaches the way
the Overall Story Characters appear to do, the Subjective Characters function as atti-

Dramatica, A New Theory of Story -- Copyright (c) 1993 - 2001 Screenplay Systems Inc. All Rights Reserved


"We're Both Alike, You and I..."

The Main and Impact Characters are counterparts. They represent the two principal
sides to the argument of the story. Because they are dealing with the same issues a
case can be made that they are not too far apart. This often results in such familiar
lines as "We're both alike," "We're just two sides of the same coin," "I'm your shadow
self," and so on. In contrast, though they are concerned with the same things, they are
coming at them from completely opposing views. This leads to common line such as
"We're nothing alike, you and I," or "We used to be friends until you stepped over the

Evil Twins?

Many authors picture the Impact Character as a negative or evil twin. Although this
can be true, it has little to do with the Impact Character's dramatic function. For ex-
ample, if a Main Character is evil and needs to change, their Impact might be a virtuous
steadfast character. Or both characters might be evil, with the resolve of one contrast-
ing the change in the other. In any case, the function of the Main and Impact Charac-
ters is to show two opposing sides of the same issue. That is their story function: to
show what happens when one changes and the other remains steadfast on a particular

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