Number 1 — September 24, 2004
Introductory Remarks

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Today I begin what I am sure will be a long and happy association with Jay Johnson at Banyon Publishing. This is the first column in a weekly series on creative writing. I begin with some background.
     I came to the United States from Canada in 1972. With time on my hands after retiring, I took an interest in storytelling that followed naturally from my experience in community theater. My search for tales to tell led to writing my own stories. My early attempts were failures and I realized I did not know anything about writing fiction. After four years of creative writing courses, I self-published two novels in 1999 that received creditable reviews. Meanwhile, I invented a storytelling persona named Elijah Taber whose success demanded he should write a book, which became successful, although I made the self-publisher's classic error of printing too many copies. Unexpectedly, my storytelling took me into retirement homes, lecturing to seniors on "Life Writing" projects. This lead to my fourth book, Creative Writing for Seniors. I responded to a demand to teach creative writing at local public libraries where I met with instant success. I continued my studies, searching for a simplified teaching technique. This summer, I succeeded in putting together a program that is like no other I have seen or heard. That is a bold statement in the face of the multiplicity of how-to books and programs flooding the market, but I think it has merit. Its uniqueness is simple. I do not linger over do's and don'ts, or introduce the usual recitation of traditional advice. I lead my students through a simple four-part step-by-step process from finding and creating, to writing and revising.
     My program removes the mystique from creative writing. It starts with a question: What motivated Jack and Jill to go up the hill? The answer leads writers through a series of easy steps, ending in the crucial event that automatically allows authors to make their own determination if the story they created is worth writing, or if they should look for another. The beauty is that this decision comes before the author has written a word of the tale. If you have a winner, go for it; if not, repeat the process until you find the story that excites you. The sections on writing and revision are succinct, explain the essentials an author needs to know to succeed after finding the story. In short, I offer practical no-nonsense advice that leads to writing success.
     Future columns in this series will respond to readers' pleas for help. Each week I will present a column in this space about some facet of writing. Any words cited from readers' submissions will be anonymous. I respect your copyright whether stated or not. I may quote a sentence or two from your work, but you will never be identified. I have no employees so you may feel confident I will respect your privacy and work.

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Number 2 — October 1, 2004
Use Action-oriented Verbs

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A common saying in the writer's world is this puzzling instruction; show, don't tell. What exactly does it mean and how to do it? To avoid telling, use action-oriented verbs. Even in a scene as simple as a man strolling down a street, the job is not to tell the reader, but to depict actions.
     Here are two sentences from a recent submission:

     "The prosecutor paraded around the court holding the jars aloft for all to see the pathetic objects bobbing in amber liquid. The sight of the specimens as they passed from juror to juror evoked disgust, anger and outrage from the entire courtroom."

     The problem in this descriptive passage is the abrupt change in the author's technique. In the first sentence, what did the prosecutor do? Look at the verbs. This is action—parading and holding. In the second sentence, what did everybody else do? We don't know because the author stopped the action, substituting telling instead of showing; no character did anything. To deliver Images of disgust, anger and outrage, the author must continue the action by describing the characters' behavior, not the courtroom's. Questions the author could consider while developing the scene.

  1. What do the jurors DO [action] that shows disgust, anger and outrage? As written, the sentence suggests every person in the courtroom has the same reaction. That's not true to life. The jurors could not possibly react in unison as the jar goes from one to the other, to say nothing of the guy in the back of the court reading a newspaper. Does one juror wince? [Action.]
  2. Does another grow pale and put his hand to his mouth? [Action.]
  3. Does the third close his eyes and pass the jar without looking at it? [Action.]
  4. Does the farmer in overalls who slaughters pigs in the fall examine the contents from every angle? [Action.]
  5. What does the judge DO [action] while this goes on? And the prosecutor? Does he watch the jurors reactions or does he look out the window? [Worried or confident?]
  6. And the defense counsel? Does he behave nonchalantly as if the evidence is trivial and unimportant? Or, does he spring to his feet with an objection? Or, does he make a fuss to divert the jurors attention away from the evidence. Or, crack a joke to lighten the atmosphere? [Accept the evidence or divert attention?]
  7. What about the spectators? The author should not TELL the reader the objects "evoked disgust and anger and outrage from the entire courtroom." The author must write in detail about the actions that SHOW the reader disgust, anger and outrage and must do it in a manner that never uses those three words. The author TELLS by using specific adjectives or nouns. When the author describes actions, then the author SHOWS the reader.

     To avoid a similar mistake in your writing, provide details of characters' movements and facial expressions that create a mental picture of the scene you intend to portray. Let the reader see the actions. A stage actor does not turn to the audience and say, "Watch this, I'm going to be disgusted now." Of course not; and neither should an author.

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Number 3 — October 8, 2004
There Is More Than One Way To Show

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An astute reader filed this question drawn from last week's article. "You wrote to avoid telling, describe action even in a scene as simple as a man strolling down a street. How do I do that? Clip-clop. Clip-clop?" [RJW. Thank you.]
     When movements or facial expressions are normal or meaningless, one way to avoid telling is not to describe the character's actions, but rather what he senses as he walks. Unless the man's walk is curious, such as on his hands and knees on a crowded street, every reader knows what walking is. One possibility is to use adverbs, such as briskly, leisurely, or purposively [see articles 32 thru 34], but there is a better way, which is by projecting Images.
     When humans go somewhere, or face something even in familiar surroundings, they always assess the experience and surroundings by using their senses. Describing the Images our story character senses will show instead of tell. Consider this example taken from my novel The Naked Jaybird. The main character, Roland Royce visits Taipei, Taiwan for the first time. He leaves his hotel room and walks through the market to the river. The questions I asked myself are obvious:

  1. What would he see?
  2. What would he smell?
  3. What would he hear?
  4. What would he taste?
  5. What would he feel?

     Here is the resulting description.

     "I went west toward the river and turned south on Kunming Road. The odd mixture of buildings defied logic, revealing city planning as a neglected art. Motorcycle and bicycle repair shops, convenience stores, restaurants, wedding halls, residential hovels, high-rise apartments, pharmacies, betel nut stands, street sellers, supermarkets and religious temples blended in an incomprehensible mélange. I peered down dark lanes, stepped over puddles of water, squeezed between piles of boxes and walked into markets strewn with decaying garbage. The smell of seafood yielded to that of freshly slaughtered meat, which changed to ripening fruit as I moved along, then back to the stench of fish and garbage. And people! People everywhere haggling in the marketplace, arguing in the street, bellowing in frustration—a cacophony of high-decibel shrieking punctuated by yelling truckers and honking horns. Yet, an indefinable order existed amid chaos. The scene suggested psychedelic works of art in bold colors, badly soiled as if left to weather too long unprotected from the sun. Curved roofs, upswept eaves, brilliant hues, intricate sculptures and ceramic décor combined to create a pattern of infinite complexity amid the squalor of the markets. At the end of Kunming Road, I gazed at the Lungsham Temple, built hundreds of years ago and said to be the oldest temple in Taiwan." [215 words]

     Sight, smell and hearing satisfied my needs. I thought Royce might stop to buy and eat betel nuts, but I didn't know the taste let alone how to describe them.
     Authorial comments, or exposition, such as Royce's walk usually lack conflict. Since we want to maximize conflict, we should minimize comments. But, when we must write them, one way is to show our readers Images as experienced through our characters' senses.

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Number 4 — October 15, 2004
About Sentence Construction

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As a sub-leader at a recent writing conference, I asked off-the-cuff questions about grammatical construction of sentences. Questions such as:

  1. What's the difference between a compound sentence and a complex sentence?
  2. What is a relative clause?
  3. What is an appositive?

      The lack of responses startled me. I concede a sampling of forty-six people among a population of three hundred million cannot have any statistical meaning. Nonetheless, the forty-six participants in the test all claimed to be writers, some published, some not, yet only two could answer the first question and none the other two. A review of grade school grammar seemed fitting, perhaps not only for my audience, but for my readers also.
     Here are the answers.

     A compound sentence is two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction. [Definition 1.] Ah! What's an independent clause? It is a simple sentence that states one thought, combining a verb and a subject with a direct object, although both the subject and object may be implied. It cannot exist without a verb. An example of a one-word sentence; "Speak." Depending on the context, the implied subject could be "you" and the direct object could be "to me."
     A dependent clause is a subordinate explanatory clause that has a subject and a verb and begins with words called subordinating conjunctions such as: although; when; as; which; that; while; because; and other similar words.
     A complex sentence includes one or more independent clausesand at least one dependent clause. [Definition 2.]
     Let's consider how to use these sentence structures. I'll start with a complex sentence using a subordinating conjunction, a dependent clause (underlined), and an independent clause.

  • While millions of conservatives celebrated the Republican victory in 1896, Democrats blamed their loss on the inflammatory rhetoric never before used in an election.[1]

     Remove the subordinating conjunction [while] and insert a coordinating conjunction [and] in the middle; the complex sentence becomes a compound sentence [two independent clauses]:

  • Millions of conservatives celebrated the Republican victory in 1896, and Democrats blamed their loss on the inflammatory rhetoric never before used in an election.[2]

     Break the compound sentence into two simple sentences:

  • Millions of conservatives celebrated the Republican victory in 1896. Democrats blamed their loss on the inflammatory rhetoric never before used in an election.[3]

     These are the choices as you revise your work, but how is one to choose? Answer: Look at the action words. It is plain in the last example [two simple sentences], one group celebrates while the other blames independently of each other. No cause and effect relationship exists. The first sentence [complex] clearly establishes the cause and effect; while one group celebrates the victory attained through inflammatory rhetoric, the other blames it for the loss. The second example lessens the emphasis tending to diminish cause and effect thereby equating their value.
     Choose the complex sentence to emphasize the cause of the celebration and its effect; the compound sentence to balance or equate the celebration and the blame; or two independent sentences when the cause and effect relationship is unimportant.

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Number 5 — October 22, 2004
Defining Restrictive & Non-restrictive

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Continuing my discussion of grade school grammar, I turn now to clauses. You may remember the second question I posed last week: What is a relative clause?
     It is a clause that modifies a noun and usually begins with words like whose, who, where, and similar pronouns functioning as subjects. There are two types of relative clauses: restrictive and non-restrictive, a distinction that seems to give writers trouble.
     A restrictive element identifies which subject, of various possibilities, is under consideration. I have four children, three boys and one girl. Suppose I attend an event with one of my boys. When reporting it, I must introduce a restriction identifying which boy:

  • I went camping with my son Archie.

     Note that commas do not set off the name. But suppose I went to the event with my daughter. Then my report would be:

  • I went camping with my daughter, Sheila.

     This is non-restrictive in that I have only one daughter and do not need a name identification about which daughter. By inserting her name, I am not restricting the information to a specific identity, I am adding the information her name is Sheila. This is non-restrictive and should be set off by commas.
     The same consideration holds true for clauses. Let's look at an example. My story concerns hunting with two of my sons. One carries a shotgun, the other a rifle. One of them takes a shot. To identify which boy fired, I must include a restriction not set off by commas.

  • The boy who carried the rifle took dead aim and hit the bulls eye.

     The underlined clause identifies the boy who fired, making it restrictive and hence no commas. Change the context to boys wearing a red hat and a green one. Now, I have identified them.

  • The boy in the green hat, who was a better shot than his brother, took dead aim and hit the bulls eye.

     This time the underlined clause is non-restrictive [set off by commas]; it adds information about the boy in the green hat, but does not add anything to his identity.
     Another example.

  • Father gave the collection to the deacon, who stood beside the pulpit.[1.]
  • Father gave the collection to the deacon who stood beside the pulpit.[2]

     What different information do these two sentences deliver? In sentence 1, the comma makes the clause who stood beside the pulpit non-restrictive [set off with a comma] meaning there is only one deacon who happens to be standing beside the pulpit. In sentence 2, several deacons may be present, but the one beside the pulpit received the collection. [No comma.] The punctuation changing the meaning of the sentence is the presence or absence of a comma.
     Common American practice uses the pronoun which for non-restrictive clauses and the pronoun that for restrictive clauses. European writers of English usually do not follow this custom. Here are two sentences demonstrating the which/that difference as generally used in the USA.

  • The files, which are on the desk, should be saved.[3]
  • The files that are on the desk should be saved.[4]

     Sentence 3 is non-restrictive: the files should be saved and they are on the desk. Sentence 4 is restrictive; save only the files on the desk (and presumably get rid of the others). In restrictive clauses, the pronoun that is often unnecessary and may be omitted without sacrificing meaning. The files on the desk should be saved.


An easy way to remember:
restriction = no comma;
no restriction = comma.

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Number 6 — October 29, 2004

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We come to the last of my questions raised in Article 4. What is an appositive? It is a non-restrictive or restrictive noun or phrase that identifies the preceding word or idea. The terms non-restrictive or restrictive have the same meaning as with clauses and use the same punctuation; set off with commas when non-restrictive and without commas when restrictive.
     We use appositives as identifiers. For instance, I might write, "The great playwright George Bernard Shaw once said . . . " The underlined name is the appositive identifying which playwright is the subject of the sentence. Because there are many great playwrights, the name is restrictive to a particular one and therefore is not set off with commas. In a different sentence arrangement, the restriction would not exist. "The author of Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw, once said . . . " In this case, there is only one author of Pygmalion and so inserting the name of the author is non-restrictive; it is informative, but not identifying.
     All of this boils down to a simple procedure. When you insert a clause or an appositive, consider this question: Is there more than one possible identity of the object or person preceding the clause or appositive?

  1. If the answer is no—meaning the object or person is previously identified—then the clause or appositive is non-restrictive and should be set off with commas.
  2. If yes, the identification is restrictive and should appear without commas.

     Before I leave clauses, I would be amiss not to mention phrases. A clause has both a subject and a verb; a phrase does not. Common types of phrases are prepositional, infinitive and participial.

     A prepositional phrase consists of a preposition and its object. Examples:

  • In the dark of night, . . .
  • To the reader's minds, . . .
  • From one of the boats, . . .

     An infinitive phrase consists of an infinitive followed by its object or modifier. Examples:

  • It was time to go to sleep.
  • It is better to start by defining . . .
  • To keep me from the golf course, . . .

     A participial phrase consists of a present or past participle with its object or modifiers. These are the ones that often give writers problems with the so-called dangling participle. Compare these two sentences. The error is easy to spot.

  • Dressed in purple pants, Jimmy opened the door and stepped outside.
  • Dressed in purple pants, the door opened and Jimmy stepped outside.

     Here's one from The Random House Guide To Good Writing that is more subtle.

  • Crossing the lawn that morning, Douglas broke a spider web with his face. (The participle crossing does not dangle because it modifies the subject Douglas.)
  • Crossing the lawn that morning, a spider web brushed against Douglas' face. (Now the participle modifies the spider web, leaving the inference the spider web moved across the lawn.)

     And the best one of all from the same source.

  • "Sautéed, broiled, baked, or boiled, you'll love our delicious chickens."

     No, you won't—not after you've been sautéed, broiled, baked, or boiled.

     You fix dangling participles by changing the subject of the sentence. Sautéed, broiled, baked, or boiled, our delicious chickens will thrill your guests. I think this type pf error is more common by self-publishers, primarily because publishing houses have copy editors whereas do-it-yourselfers rush the editing process. Take care.

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Number 7 — November 5, 2004
Setting The Scene

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A recent article on writing opened with this statement: "Begin with the action. Setting and background can wait." In my view, this is poor advice, especially since it contains an ambiguity. Does background mean the backdrop or framework of the scene, or does it refer to the back-story? I would amend the recommendation: "Open your story by integrating action and setting. The back-story can wait."
     I like to compare opening a story to a theater production. When the curtain rises on Act 1, the audience immediately receives a sense of setting. The scenery depicts where the action will take place. Actors do not usually start on a dark stage. A movie seldom opens without some introductory scene placing the action. I believe setting and place cannot wait. Here are three examples selected at random from my bookshelves. The point is each combines action with setting.
     Graham Greene starts Travels With My Aunt with the following paragraph.

     I met my Aunt Augusta for the first time in more than half a century at my mother's funeral. My mother was approaching eighty six when she died, and my aunt was some eleven or twelve years younger. I had retired from the bank two years before with an adequate pension and a silver handshake. There had been a take-over by the Westminster and my branch was considered redundant. Everyone thought me lucky, but I found it difficult to occupy my time. I have never married, I have always lived quietly, and, apart from my interest in dahlias, I have no hobby. For those reasons I found myself agreeably excited by my mother's funeral.

     Robert Ludlum starts The Bourne Identity with this sentence.

     The trawler plunged into the angry swells of the dark, furious sea like an awkward animal trying disparately to break out of an impenetrable swamp. (Two more sentences follow describing the agony the ship is experiencing. Then the second paragraph continues) Two abrupt explosions . . .

. . . and the author is well into the action in a recognizable situation. It would be a different opening had he reversed these two paragraphs.

     John Le Carré starts The Night Manager with the following paragraph.

     On a snow-swept January evening of 1991, Jonathan Pine, the English night manager of the Hotel Meister Palace in Zurich, forsook his office behind the reception desk and, in the grip of feelings he had not known before, took up his position in the lobby as a prelude to extending his hotel's welcome to a distinguished late arrival. The Gulf war had just begun. Throughout the day, news of the Allied bombings, discreetly relayed by the staff, had caused consternation on the Zurich stock exchange. Hotel bookings, which in any January were low, had sunk to crisis levels. Once more in her long history Switzerland was under siege.

     In each case, the opening paragraph by these three famous authors shows the reader where the action is taking place. Le Carré includes a date, a practice I recommend, but is not always possible. A book taking place some time in the future may not have a date. I do not believe an author should fire the gun at the neglect of depicting the place where the shooting occurs. The first paragraph of a story should integrate action into the scene environment.

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Number 8 — November 12, 2004
Teaching Students To Write A Story

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I went to school this week; grade six to be exact. The teacher asked me to talk to her class about creative writing. I elected suspense as my subject, which hinges on a simple premise: "What's next?"

     The teacher warned me the class consisted of boys, some of whom were difficult at best, impossible at worst. I decided to talk about baseball, to ignore those who didn't want to listen and to hope for the best. The result was better than I expected.
     I selected a question, answer and vote technique to involve as many students as I could. I appointed two boys to count the votes.
     The story is about a twelve-year old who asks to see the St. Louis Cardinals play as his birthday gift. The story question is; "Will he see Jim Edmonds hit a home run or will he not?" Simple; straightforward; everyday situation familiar to all the students.
     Then I began the questions.

QUESTION 1: Saint Louis is a long way from NW Arkansas. To go to the game, the boy must be excused from school. What problem arises?
ANSWER 1: I managed to evoke two responses, which I wrote on the chalkboard. Then, I called for a vote; "permission denied by the teacher" won.

QUESTION 2: How is the problem solved, meaning how will the teacher's objections be overcome?
ANSWER 2: The boy's "father writes a note" won over three other answers.

     Now, I switched my technique to have the students define the problem.

QUESTION 3: They are driving to Saint Louis. What problem arises?
ANSWER 3: They have a flat tire.

QUESTION 4: What problem arises?
ANSWER 4: The spare tire is flat.

QUESTION 5: How is the problem solved?
ANSWER 5: They call road service.

     By this time, most of the boys had become involved and the others were at least paying some attention. The class was a bit rowdy, but I didn't lose control, although more than once I thought I might.

QUESTION 6: When they arrive in Saint Louis, they have difficulties. What problem arises?
ANSWER 6: They cannot find the tickets.

QUESTION 7: How is the problem solved?
ANSWER 7: The tickets are in the trunk of the car.

We are in our seats at the game. I asked the students to create an exciting ending. The summary of their best ideas: The bases are loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning. The score is 7 — 4 for the visiting team. Edmonds is at bat. The count is 3 and 2. Edmonds swings. We hear the smack of the bat on the ball.

QUESTION 8: What is the question the author must answer?
ANSWER 8: Will the boy come home from his birthday party with a home run baseball hit by Jim Edmonds?

     The students had a plot. The teacher instructed them to write the story at home. I suggested ideas such as the boy dreaming how much he would like to see Edmonds hit a home run; how he hopes the Cardinals will win; how he fears being late for the game and missing a home run. In the end, the reader learns the answers to all these questions.
     The teacher called to say the results surprised her.

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Number 9 — November 19, 2004
Character Roles — Part 1

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This is the first of a series of articles on characterization. I notice in my lectures on creative writing, a recurring lack of understanding about the terms subjective and objective characters.
     I begin with a fictional family story of my lawyer uncle who succumbs to political influence. The first turning point, or inciting incident, affects ten people. They comprise a group in which each individual is different; each has a private goal, a critical flaw, and a motivating force—all of which I will discuss in detail later—that guide personal decisions and actions. Apart from their singularities, some characters may share beliefs: political; religious; ethical; unethical; moral; amoral; and so on. Among them is one particular individual, the central figure in my story, called the Main Character. (I caution readers, the Main Character is NOT necessarily the Protagonist.)
     To understand the role of the Main Character, consider the legal corporation that employs my uncle. An executive director frames policies and issues orders that control lower level attorneys. The individual labeled Main Character could be one such lawyer; a recent law school graduate regulated by limits over which he has little influence. The organization dictates his pay scale, hours of work, caseload, vacations, all of which affect every facet of his life. I will tell the story through the eyes and emotional experiences of this low-level subjective individual. The story examines a portion of a society through the experience of one person—the Main Character. The author does this by crawling inside the character's head, disclosing thoughts, and feeling emotions as the Main Character struggles to achieve his purpose.
     Underlying this struggle is a problem affecting all the characters in the story. In other words, what is the story about? The decision falls to the author who must know the answer before he begins. In my case, I choose the integrity of lawyers given the opportunity to exploit their influence within their constituency.
     The subjective discontent felt by the Main Character causes him to seek escape. His dream could be an eventual appointment to the Supreme Court. One of the ways lawyers achieve such a goal is to serve as judicial clerks for judges. When my uncle becomes a judge, the Main Character has his opportunity. He gains the appointment, but soon finds he faces myriad problems he never imagined, each presenting hurdles difficult, if not impossible, to pass. He flounders in one direction and then another, every rejection being worse than the last one. Throughout this ordeal, a second character appears identified as the Obstacle Character. By definition, whatever the Main Character strives for, the Obstacle Character opposes. For instance, the young attorney's wife could be a candidate for this role. She sees nothing but disaster ahead and advises her husband to accept his lot in life. With this choice, the story becomes an argument—career dreams versus safety of reality: The devil you know versus the devil you don't. Another possibility is a competing lawyer who wants the same position and constantly puts roadblocks in the path of the Main Character. The possibilities are infinite, restricted only by the limits of the author's imagination.
     Here are the character definitions:

  • MAIN CHARACTER: The central figure through whose eyes readers experience the story, and who is subjective relative to the story problem.
  • OBSTACLE CHARACTER: This character forces the Main Character to evaluate his or her beliefs, to face personal problems and to reconsider objectives. This character is also subjective relative to the story problem.

These two characters must be given a reason to oppose each other, that is to have goals that clash, which creates conflict, the all-important acorn from which the mighty story grows.

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Number 10 — November 26, 2004
Character Roles — Part 2

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In the last article, I defined two characters—the Main and Obstacle Characters—confronting each other about a particular story problem. The next character to consider is the Protagonist who, by definition, is the prime mover of the story with the role of finding a solution to the problem that is the cause of the story difficulties.
     The fourth character is the Antagonist who opposes the Protagonist in every way. The objective the Protagonist pursues, the Antagonist seeks to avoid; or that which the Protagonist seeks to avoid, the Antagonist seeks to obtain. While the outcome is a concern to all the characters, the Protagonist is the sole character charged with the responsibility of finding a solution to the story problem, or avoiding a catastrophe if the problem is negative. That suggests the Protagonist is the "good guy" and the Antagonist is the "bad guy." Indeed, in many stories that is the format, but it is not the only choice. Ronald Tobias in his book 20 Master Plots describes kinds of stories as "good" and "evil," asserting the best stories are "good versus good" and "evil versus evil." As examples, Mr. Tobias suggests the movie Kramer versus Kramer as an example of the first; the film Fatal Attraction as an example of the second. In either case, the Protagonist's goal is the story's goal, regardless of the story type.
     Much modern writing ignores the difference between the Main Character and the Protagonist by putting them in the same body. Similarly, the Obstacle Character and the Antagonist may sometimes occupy the same body. In essence this unification creates a hero—as in a detective story—and a villain. Having two or four principal characters is a choice the author must make. Regardless of the final decision, I suggest starting the story plan based on four principal characters.
     To return to the story about my aberrant uncle, you will recall I selected a junior attorney as the Main Character, and a more senior lawyer as the Obstacle Character. Since my uncle voluntarily becomes involved in deception, if not criminal activity, he is "evil" rather than "good" and my inclination is to cast him as the Antagonist leaving me with the problem of selecting the Protagonist.
     A District Attorney would be an obvious choice; someone sworn to uphold the law, fight crime and preserve order. Then my story will be about an Antagonist (my uncle) with a negative purpose giving the Protagonist (the DA) the goal of stopping him. The DA will be influential in the political and legal worlds. He becomes suspicious about questionable judgments by the Antagonist. But, I also have the choice of making the DA an unscrupulous character untrue to his oath of office; that is he may also be "evil." No rule exists about right and wrong choices. The author decides early in the planning stage because it affects a great deal that follows.
     Does the type of story make a difference to the young attorney—the Main Character—who wants to clerk for the judge and become a member of the Supreme Court? It doesn't matter because whatever frustrations he experiences at the hands of the Obstacle Character, eventually he becomes aware of the illegal deceptions by one or more characters, exposes the deception and becomes a pillar of the legal community. The change he experiences is from disillusionment in his selected profession at the beginning of the story to faith in the legal system at the end as the evildoers march off to jail.

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