Main Character

The Influence Character’s Impact on a Steadfast Main Character

I was wondering that in knowing the existence of an Influence Character and how they challenge the Main Character emotionally -- get them to face their personal issues, and so on -- my question is:

"If the Main Character is steadfast, is the Influence Character still challenging the Main Character as if the Main Character were a change character?  Or is it that the Main Character challenges the Influence Character throughout the story to change the Influence Character's approach?

Both, though the frame of reference is always the Main Character.

The Influence Character's behavior creates greater and greater pressure* for the Main Character to change, which forces the Main Character to EITHER build up greater and greater resistance to the pressure, or slowly have the Main Character's resolve eroded.  By the end, the Main Character stays the course, either through conscious choice or perseverance. 

MEANWHILE, the Main Character's steadfastness challenges the Influence Character's determination, which either erodes the Influence Character's adherence to its paradigm, or makes the cost of maintaining the Influence Character's paradigm too challenging to hold.  By the end, the Influence Character gives in or gives up and changes by adopting the Main Character's perspective (in the context of the inequity).

* NOTE: The pressure increases in part because the Influence Character adapts as the Main Character adopts new approaches to resisting the Influence Character's alternative world view.  The changing approaches occur act-by-act, and are visible in the changing frames of reference represented in the four Signposts in the Main Character throughline, the Influence Character throughline, and the MC/IC Relationship throughline.

Can the Main Character decide both he and the Influence Character are wrong?

In my story, he MC (in the case of a Change MC) is on the wrong track and the IC character is trying to influence or persuade him otherwise. SO, my question is: will a story still be as solid and "Complete" if the MC changes, but finds Faith (again, in my story's case) in something else than what the IC was arguing or what the Main character believed before? In other words, is it possible to keep a solid story structure if two arguments are being made throughout the story from the IC and the MC, but at the end the MC discovers both their arguments were wrong and discovers some new path to take (in terms of his character change)? So is it okay to introduce a new argument at the end of the story as a big twist to the audience? 

For lack of a better example, let's say the IC is arguing that the blue pill is the best pill, and the MC is arguing that the red pill is the best pill, but in the climax of the story the MC realizes that there is something better than the blue AND red pill - and I introduce the green pill, so he chooses that and his Problem is resolved through that path. Or is that not something I should really be doing?

The IC argument is FAITH, not any particular incarnation of faith.  For example, Obi-wan tells Luke he needs to trust the Force, when really all Luke needs to do is to TRUST SOMETHING... ANYTHING -- himself, the Force, doesn't matter.  So your MC  has to have faith in something even if the IC is saying have faith in something else.  The point is that the conversation is no longer about Disbelief, which was the source of his personal conflict.  The 'conversation' has moved on and the MC Problem becomes a moot point -- it is of no consequence any longer because that story (argument) is over.  THAT IS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT PART OF THE CHANGE.  It may turn out that Faith isn't the answer either, but the fact that the MC has  released himself from the black hole created by the blind spot associated with the MC Problem is what allows the MC to move on with his life.

Blue pill vs. Red pill isn't the right kind of comparison.  The real issue is perceived world versus reality (perception v. actuality), but the pill representation is only meaningful to the MC (Neo) if he can conceive of the difference between the two, which he can't because he's not ready.  What the pills represent at that point in the story is the first step TOWARD being able to know the difference between the two. Just like your character, Neo has to get past the distractions of the pills so that he can let go of his disbelief and have faith that he could be the ONE.  It just so happens that he is so we have a happy ending, but you could have had an ambiguous ending like that of Inception where the MC has changed but the audience doesn't know if he ended up in reality or perception land.  For the MC it doesn't matter because that was not his personal problem.

Can a group of characters function collectively as the Main Character?

I am using the Structure Template for Screenplay and am having a difficult time determining if this character is the Main Character or the Protagonist. Is it possible for the Team to function collectively as the Main Character or the Protagonist?

I have this character established as the Protagonist currently but am not sure that she doesn't function as the Main Character. It also seems that she is the Protagonist and the Team (collectively) might be the Main Character if that's possible. If this is possible, how do I identify the "Team" as a collection of four characters in the Structure Template?

A Main Character is:

  • The character through which the audience experiences the story, and...
  • The character is dealing with "her" personal issues independently of everything going on in the Overall Story throughline (the efforts to achieve the Story Goal).

Though it is "possible" that the group is the MC, it is unlikely that is the case. From what little you've described of your story, it doesn't appear that you have an MC in its current form and could benefit from making one of your story's players also the MC.

The overall story characters (such as Protagonist, etc.) are part of the Overall Story throughline and work toward (or against) the achievement of the goal. If you want to tell your story effectively using only these four players, I advise you to break out of the character "archetypes" and create complex characters. Ideally, all of the motivations found in the Build Characters window should be represented by one character or another. Since you only have four characters, you should divvy the sixteen character elements between these characters. You may do so evenly (4 elements each) or unevenly. I highly recommend AGAINST putting two character elements that appear in a dynamic pair (diagonal) relationship into one character. For example: Do NOT put both logic AND feeling into one character.

If you do the above, you will have some OS characters FOR the story goal, and others AGAINST it. Without this tug-of-war of "for" and "against" you wouldn't have any conflict in your story--it would merely be a narrative of events without much to move it along.

Is there a way to have more than one Main Character in Dramatica?

We are preparing to use Dramatica to help us write a book. My question to you is: what if there is more than one main character? Is there a way to use the software to include multiple characters in the same role?

The Dramatica software only allows you to develop a story with one main character per document. Some complex novels and films have more than one story going on at the same time. To accommodate this, I suggest creating a document for each of the stories. Develop each independently while keeping in mind how they will eventually be woven together.

One thing to keep in mind is that Main Character throughline in a story is different than the "writer's voice," the choice an author makes in determining how she will relate the story to the audience. In other words, you can choose to describe any event from any throughline from any character in that throughline's perspective in the first (I), second (you/we), or third (he/she/they/it) person's voice.

The reason I mention this is because several novelists use the technique of adopting the first person for many characters in their story (Stephen King comes to mind), even though most of them are merely characters in the Overall Story throughline. Sure, we get into their head a bit more and they may even be the main character of their own little substory, but the fact that the author has chosen to describe a bit of the story from their first person's perspective does not make them the Main Character of the story.

How can I illustrate the Influence Character from a first person point-of-view?

I've gone through the entire process for one story and am ready to write it. But I want to write the novel in a first-person point-of-view (from the Main Character/Protagonist's POV). With this POV, I don't see how I can present the Influence Character's throughline. It is how the audience would view the Influence Character; yet, the storytelling is colored always by the Main Character's POV. The Main Character's story line and the Relationship Story throughline are easy. The Objective Story throughline is working (although somewhat colored by the MC's POV, too.)

Concerning your question about the Influence Character POV in a predominantly Main Character (first person) story, there are several points to consider. The first and foremost is the relationship between the MC and the IC (the Relationship Story Throughline). The MC has a perspective (world view) that comes into conflict with the world around him/her. The IC is defined by his or her alternative perspective (or world view), and by how that alternative impacts the MC. One of the two perspectives, the MC's or the IC's, will make better sense and have a better feel than the other. Ultimately, one perspective will give way to the other (for better or worse).

It is easy to illustrate the alternate world view, even from the first person narrative form. For example, Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby is the Influence Character to the MC and narrator, Nick Carraway. Nick Carraway was raised to be tolerant of other's moral shortcomings. By his presence, Jay Gatsby forces Nick to reconsider this long held belief. Ultimately, to quote our story analysis, "The events that occurred in the summer of '22, however, gave him an aversion to the ways of the corrupt and dissolute, and his essential nature changed."

The Narrator

The narrator's "voice"--no matter which character "vocalizes" it--is that of the author. This means that a narrator, by definition, is not part of the story while they are narrating. So, if the narrator says, "A long time ago in a land far away..." it is not the Character speaking, but the author talking ABOUT the story, not speaking from within the story. (By Story, I mean a Grand Argument Story, not the type of "work" in which it is expressed, such as novel, screenplay, ballad, etc.)

Voice vs. Perspective

So now let's talk about the writer's use of voice (first person, second person, etc.) versus the four perspectives in a grand argument story.

An author can choose to tell a grand argument story using only one writer's voice, or several.

Let's use the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood (LRRH) as an example. Specifically, let's examine the event where LRRH first meets the wolf.

What are the four throughlines?

  • Main Character: Little Red Riding Hood
  • Influence Character: Wolf
  • Overall Story: LRRH is taking goodies to her ailing Grandmother when she is waylayed by a wolf.
  • Relationship Story Throughline: Predator/Prey

Now let's describe all four throughlines using the First Person writer's voice:

MC: "I was skipping along through the forest when a big, black wolf jumped out from behind a tree and blocked my path. I was so startled, I almost dropped my basket of goodies! Boy, was he a good-looking wolf."

IC: "I could see that you liked me by your staring glaze and crooked smile. You wanted more from me than what was in my basket. My mother had warned me about wolves like you."

OS: "What I didn't see was that there was a hunter with a big ax that was searching the forest for the wolf. It seems that the wolf had killed several of his sheep the night before. The wolf knew the hunter was nearby and that made him very nervous."

MC/IC: "The more I thought about it, the more it seemed that the wolf and I had a lot in common. We were both alone together on a desolate forest path, looking for companionship. Sure, he might see me as a tasty morsel, but who says he so safe from he? You know, I think we might make quite a pair...given the right circumstances."

So, for the little examples above, you can see that the four throughlines can be expressed from the first person perspective. In the MC example, the narrator expresses personal (I) observations and feelings. In the IC example, the narrator expresses what the Wolf thinks and feels, and more particularly how the Wolf impacts the MC. In the OS example, the narrator describes events that she could not possible see as LRRH. That's what is meant by the "big picture." In the Relationship Story example, the narrator describes the relationship between LRRH and the Wolf.

You could choose to express the throughlines exclusively in the first person voice, such as the examples above, or you may choose to express them using different voices. Using multiple voices is much trickier because it can be jarring to the reading experience for the audience, but it is a completely viable alternate to the more common "one work--one writer's voice" practice. You may also use the second person voice and third person voice (more traditional) to tell your story.