protagonist RSS

antagonist, protagonist, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, statement of intention -

The story isn’t just about the protagonist; the protagonist is the story. We should establish the protagonist as quickly as possible, and from there maintain a tight focus on the protagonist’s actions to move the story forward. We can find examples of this in the most elemental of story forms. For example, fairy tales. “Once upon a time, there was a princess who lived in a castle…” Bang, there’s our story: a princess is living in a castle, and then something happens, so then she does X, which leads to Y, and onto Z, and so on. That’s our narrative....

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cinematic action, goal, human experience, protagonist, stakes, ticking clock, universal interest -

Lately, I’ve been watching THE BEAR. It’s a single-camera workplace half-hour comedy in construction, but as it takes place in a sandwich shop, with a chef for a protagonist, it’s also a cooking show. It is not the only cooking show; there are entire cable channels devoted this this sub-genre. We have star chefs who are famous with the general public. Cooking holds eternal interest for the viewing audience. It’s a very cinematic activity. We have a cacophonic ballet of action: roaring flames, clattering pots and pans, slicing knives, steam rising, ingredients sprinkling, the chef in constant activity and motion....

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Here are some other common tools that are used to generate reader/audience sympathy for characters, especially protagonists and antagonists. They care for somebody. The character is taking care of someone, perhaps an elderly parent, a sick spouse, a child. Even a pet will do the trick. This shows us the character is capable of emotions we can get behind: selflessness, empathy, love. This is why we will often see the tired trope of the character doing X in order to get money for an operation for their sick child/parent/etc. We’re willing to excuse almost any X behavior because we understand...

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BREAKING BAD, Goal, Motivation, Protagonist, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, Sympathy, Three Pillars -

There are three pillars to keep in mind when crafting story in such a way that the audience can engage. These are: Goal, Motivation, Sympathy. Goal is simply an understanding of what the protagonist is trying to do. This should be the engine of the A-story; our story is about the protagonist pursuing the goal. If we don’t even know what the character is doing, then instead of story it’s just incident; stuff happening. There is no plot or momentum. If the audience can’t perceive or understand what the protagonist is trying to do, it’s easy for them to get...

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A-story, action, antagonist, efficient storytelling, MAD MAX, narrative construction, protagonist, THE ROAD WARRIOR -

I recently had the pleasure of seeing The Road Warrior (aka Mad Max 2) on the big screen for the first time. This film is wonderful for a variety of reason, not least of which is it’s a set-up that’s so high concept it established its own sub-genre. The other thing that stands out is the ruthless efficiency of its storytelling. We open with a voiceover telling us about the world. This is essentially a car chase movie, so we cut to a car chase in media res; we’re immediately delivering the goods. At the end of the chase, Max...

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