Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Protagonist and Antagonist, kind of big deal.

My last post was rather beefy. I woke up with no plans today, so I thought it be best I just do whatever pops in my head to waste time. One thing I wanted to cover to some degree was Protagonists and Antagonist. I mention them a lot on here, but I sometimes feel I'm sending off the wrong impression of what those two things are. One view that comes to mind is Good and Evil. That's the most obvious pairing of the two, but I've recently learned that it doesn't always mean that, nor are any of my processes mentioned here specifically designed to make action orientated stories.

They can be used in any kind of genre. Romance, Comedy, Drama, and even a Hentai. Every genre needs the same structure. A problem, a protagonist, and an antagonist. Without those things, we don't have an interesting story. We have a perfect world where there aren't any problems and everyone gets along. BOR-ING!! No wants to read that, and no one wants to make that. To make something interesting we need to get our hands dirty and we need conflicts. And for that it starts with a Protagonist and an Antagonist.

The Protagonist is of course our main character. They can be male or female. A warrior or a scholar. A kid or an adult. They can be whatever we want them to be and they aren't limited by the genre we want to do. The Antagonist is the Protagonist's counter. They're mostly known as the bad guys or villains, but they aren't limited to that either. The Antagonist is there to create conflicts for the Protagonist to overcome. The two could be friends, enemies, co-workers, family members, or anything you can imagine to fit the genre we want to do.

Let's take comedy for instance. Say we want to make a humorous story with no violence. We still need an Antagonist to keep our Protagonist held back from accomplishing their goal. The Antagonist could be the Protagonist's best friend who gives bad advice. They could also be a rival co-worker or family member. Whatever they are, they have to have their own goals as well. This could be something that involves seeing the Protagonist fail, or something the Protagonist doesn't agree with.  The Antagonist needs to be present to create the conflict our Protagonist will have to overcome to complete their goals.

I felt I needed to go more in depth with this because I didn't want to give the impression I'm only concentrating on Good Guy vs Bad Guy and every Climax involves an action scene. The basic conflict between the Protagonist and Antagonist is in every genre we know of. Even Romantic Comedies have the two along with some conflict to be defeated. It's not as serious as the Antagonist wants to take over world or kill the Protagonist, but it's there nonetheless in every piece of entertainment we read or watch.

Even light-hearted movies I grew up with have conflicts and antagonists. Most classic Disney movies from the 50s and 60s that weren't animated also contained those two things, and they were still family friendly. Comedies also have them, as they create situations for the protagonist that not only gets them closer to meeting their goal, but creates humorous situations for the audience without being violent.

That's why in my earlier posts I said the first thing we need is Protagonist and Antagonist to get the ball rolling if we don't have a story on hand to go with. The pairing of the two can create all sorts of crazy situations. Either humorous, touching, or action orientated, to create an entertaining story. When venturing off to do something new, start with those two. Brainstorm a bit to see which personality combinations will result in creating interesting situations. See which genre it might fit in best with. As a rule of thumb, the more ideas one comes up with with just those two characters is a sign the creator is on the right path.

Not every story needs a huge overall plot or detailed setting to be interesting. It could be as simple as just having the Protagonist and Antagonist being rivals in any kind of generic setting we could think of. Fantasy, Sci-Fi, or Modern. It doesn't matter as long as you have the Protagonist and Antagonist playing off of each other.

So when the well in your head is dry, and you feel overwhelmed with trying to come up with something huge. Take it down a notch, just start with those two characters and go from there. You could stumble onto something bigger than you expected without even knowing it.

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