1. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    Protagonist-antagonist switching

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by stubeard, May 17, 2012.

    What do people think about the protagonist and antagonist switching places halfway through a story, before coming together at the end to defeat a greater foe?

    Say, perhaps, there are two people (A & B), both after the same prize, and A spends the first act trying to steal it from B. The sympathy then switches to B, who has to get it back. Finally, A & B have to unite to defeat a larger foe (C) in the end.

    The immediate problem I can see is, in building up the sympathy for whoever is in the inferior position, the other will come out looking like a jerk, and that will ultimately undermine the sympathy for both characters in their final challenge.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. indy5live
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    indy5live Active Member

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    Sounds like a dysfunctional family that ends up getting their act together because of this bigger threat. It's doable but the bigger threat can't just pop out of nowhere, it has to be lingering in the background so when the larger foe decides to start his assault it's believable and not just a farfetched coincidence. I wrote a story where a son and father completely hate each other and make every effort to let the other one know it, but when their (daughter/sister) got kidnapped they had to forget their differences to help her out. It ended up being an act by the girl because she was going to announce her engagement to them and wanted them both at her wedding but she knew it would only be drama unless she did something drastic to unite them. I just had to make sure I introduced the conflict the girl was having before it just randomly happened, which was sort of a trick without revealing it was a setup. Good luck.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Ever watch the Rich Man, Poor Man miniseries (not quite the same as the book)? Rudy Jordache was serious and conscientious, and his brother Tom was the screwup. Their father kicked Tom out. Rudy went on to college, Tom drifted, in and out of trouble, involved with all the wrong people. Eventually, Tom joins the Merchant Marine, and starts getting his act together, while Rudy begins compromising his ideals and becoming cold and corrupt. Tom becomes a man of honor, becomes the hero of the story.

    So the long and the short of it is, yes, it can work.




    If, of course, you make it work.
     
  4. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I don't really think it's a matter of building up sympathy for whoever is in the inferior position. But you can simultaneously "build up sympathy" for both guys at the same time. It's possible for two parties to not like each other, yet at the same time the audience can relate to them. I don't think I've ever seen this done in a book (I'm sure it's been done though), but it reminds me of the move The Prestige. The plot of the movie (without giving any spoilers) is about two rival magicians that 1-up each other throughout the movie.

    You can invent a reason for the people to not like each other, and thus they would be "competing" to get this item. Then somewhere in the middle they realize that the "real foe" is person C.
     
  5. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    And it's a great story. I recommend you see a film called "The Posse," starring Kirk Douglas and Bruce Dern. One of my favorite smaller films that demonstrates you can't tell the good guys and bad guys by the color of their cowboy hats.
     

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