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  1. keysersoze

    keysersoze Senior Member

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    Not sure about the archetype of my protagonist

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by keysersoze, Feb 20, 2020.

    I am writing a play in which there are four main characters. I like the idea of character archetypes and three of the four characters are warrior, shadow king and shadow magician. The woman who is the love interest is a warrior archetype. She has been abused and the protagonist wants to save her from her self-destructive life. He fails in doing that. The father is a shadow king archetype and the boss is a shadow magician archetype. The protagonist is highly oppressed by the father. The warrior woman pushes him to embrace his own vitality. The boss puts him in a precarious situation out of which it is impossible for the protagonist to get out. He asks for moral support from the father and father condemns him for straying away from father's worldview and agenda. At this point, the protagonist finally speaks up for himself and cuts himself off the abusive relationship.

    I am really confused about the protagonist here. Is he the lover archetype? He does not seem to be the hero archetype because there is no real objective to be achieved here. He has been thrown into a situation that is not to his liking and he is only trying to come out of the situation clean. But he can't. He can be a rebel archetype but that is only in the concluding act of the play. He has not always been a rebel. He might turn into a perpetual rebel post the conclusion of the play. Does that make him a rebel archetype? Is there any other archetype that he can be? What am I missing here?
     
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  2. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber marshmallow Contributor

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    Shadow king and shadow magician aren't Jungian archetypes. What model are you using?
    Edit: after a little research it appears that I may have been mistaken.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
  3. Thorn Cylenchar

    Thorn Cylenchar Senior Member

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  4. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    He might be a magician—from what I've read it can mean somebody who uses skills or knowledge; modern forms of magic. But I'm not sure you can build all your characters entirely from just those 4 archetypes.

    What does the character do? He actually sounds like the most passive character from what you've said so far—what kind of conflicts does he have to get himself out of, and how does he attempt to do it?
     
  5. keysersoze

    keysersoze Senior Member

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    The following is what he does during the course of the play. Let me know if the protagonist (K) seems passive and if he is how is that bad for the play and if it needs change, do you have any suggestions. Also, if you can figure out the character archetype, it would be nice.

    At the beginning, a woman (L) showers lewd attention on K. He flinches at her suggestive moves. She remarks about his father, he asks her to not do that and she calls him to her. She puts her arms around his neck as he stands paralyzed for a few seconds. He is trying to figure out how he got caught. He asks her to pay attention but she doesn't until she finds out that he is being blackmailed for a lot of money.

    They listen to the phone recording of the blackmailer's call. The blackmailer has sent some information to K's father proving the threats aren't empty. He would next send the information to his boss and finally to the regulatory authorities. K would lose his job and be sent to jail if that happens. K asks him to take all the money except the 7 million Indian rupees he needed to buy the house. The blackmailer says he would think about it and tells him to meet him exactly after one week. K explains insider trading that he did to L and she doesn't understand a word. She tells him to figure out who the blackmailer could be instead of how h got caught. He figures his relatives are too stupid for that. It has to be someone at the office. It could be either the woman who is the finance dept head, the guy who is the IT dept head or the boss of the company. He tells her his father needs the house. He is willing to go to jail if he could save the house he has bought for his father.

    He asks her why she doesn't leave the flesh trade. He is willing to give her money. She asks if he'd marry her. He asks her to be serious; she says she is. He tells her it is not possible, she is in the flesh trade, people won't accept her. He asks her to change her profession. She tells him to mind his own business and go lick his father's ass. She mocks his beliefs and the world he comes from. He pities her for her stupidity for rejecting a generous offer. She hurls offenses at him and he leaves.

    In the second act, K meets the blackmailer who is his boss (S) and S wants K to steal some information to sabotage this woman R, who controls some secrets of S. K negotiates knowing that the woman in question actually likes him. When K tells S this, he is assuaged and decides to let K off the leash. K asks him to tell send his father message that the situation is no longer a threat.

    The final act is at K's home where the father (M) is horribly disappointed with K. He recounts everything that he did for K as a father and how K failed him at many things. He needed the son to succeed to hold his head high in his social circle. But nothing has been quite as bad as this. The house would have brought untold prestige to the family. The father asks why he failed him? Why? K agrees that he has failed him. M says that this cannot go unpunished. He forbids him to speak to any of the relatives ever again. It does not satisfy M. He adds K's sister's education would stop and she would be married off within a month. M repents his plans for the future and goes glum when there is a delivery at the door.

    The information that the blackmail is off reaches the father. Father becomes ecstatic. He forgives the son. K tells him that K has indeed failed M. He dedicated his life to M and he failed. It is only graceful to accept his failure. And he leaves.
     
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  6. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    My initial impression—it seems everybody else is what I would call manipulators and K seems like a maneuverer. He doesn't seem to do anything to anyone else, to force their hand in any way, instead he seems to always be twisting in their grasp and doing very minor things to try to minimize the damage they're doing to him. Always defensive rather than offensive. So yes, to me he seems the most passive, though that might be because he's young and inexperienced and caught in the machinations of aggressive people. In life that's the way many people are of course, but I think in a narrative story the main character needs to take action—find a way to turn the tables on some of these people that throws them off their game. It doesn't need to be matching aggression against their aggression, there are other ways in between defense and obvious aggression. Assertiveness isn't the same as aggression, but can be very effective against it.

    Of course it's hard to tell from just a brief synopsis.

    One other thing I wanted to offer—I've heard the Lover archetype doesn't necessarily have to mean romantic/sexual love, it can apparently mean he's a person who loves something or things. I haven't really seen more on it or thought my way deeper into that one yet, you might find a way.

    My gut is telling me that in order for a man to take on one of the archetypes he needs to discover which type he is and start using his power in that particular way. It seems like he might not have reached that stage yet, as if he's what's known as a 'stuck' character. It seems the end of the story might be the character breaking free of his oppressive situation and beginning to grow toward his eventual archetype. Maybe it's more of a coming of age story?
     
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  7. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I just looked back at your first post and want to say this now. I think a rebel would be the shadow form of one of the existing archetypes—for instance if he shows his rebellion directly and confrontationally he's a shadow Warrior. If it's more tricky and deceitful that's probably a shadow Magician. If he cheats on loved ones or does underhanded things to them maybe a shadow Lover.

    @Friedrich Kugelschreiber (wow, that's quite a name!) & @Thorn Cylenchar I believe they actually are Jungian archetypes, just under different names—notice each has a Shadow form. These are supposed to be the 4 main male archetypes. King is the final one, when you've mastered all the others and combined them, so it would be analogous to the Self. Keep in mind in the Jungian tradition you mostly only hear about the major archetypes that are involved in the Individuation process, but there are countless others as well. @keysersoze you might consider making your MC somewhat of a Trickster type, which would equate to a magician with a strong Shadow aspect.
     
  8. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I just looked back at your first post and want to say this now. I think a rebel would be the shadow form of one of the existing archetypes—for instance if he shows his rebellion directly and confrontationally he's a shadow Warrior. If it's more tricky and deceitful that's probably a shadow Magician. If he cheats on loved ones or does underhanded things to them maybe a shadow Lover.

    @Friedrich Kugelschreiber (wow, that's quite a name!) & @Thorn Cylenchar I believe they actually are Jungian archetypes, just under different names—notice each has a Shadow form. These are supposed to be the 4 main male archetypes. King is the final one, when you've mastered all the others and combined them, so it would be analogous to the Self. Keep in mind in the Jungian tradition you mostly only hear about the major archetypes that are involved in the Individuation process, but there are countless others as well. @keysersoze you might consider making your MC somewhat of a Trickster type, which would equate to a magician with a strong Shadow aspect. Read up on Tricksters, there's a lot of info available and it's fascinating stuff.
     
  9. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Double Post
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
  10. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Sorry about all the posts in a row (one of them was accidental) but the ideas have coalesced and I can articulate them better now, more specifically.

    I don’t know what kind of conversation the MC has with the blackmailer, but from the synopsis it sounds like it’s no big deal, like he just basically says "Hey, your blackmailing is inconveniencing me, maybe you could stop?”—knowing that she likes him, and she’s all like “sure, sorry about that!”

    If it does go something like that, then the MC never had to do anything—everything was laid in his lap. He didn’t even have to do any detective work to figure out who the blackmailer is, the boss just told him, and then he didn’t have to show any courage or cleverness to solve the problem, just ask politely apparently. Or negotiate I think you said, so it depends partly on what’s said in that convo.

    But in narrative your MC needs to brave great danger and make serious sacrifices to solve his problem.

    There doesn’t even seem to be a direct confrontational relationship between the MC and the villain (the blackmailer)—he seems to just be accidentally caught in the backsplash of her plot against somebody else. And the solution seems like a deus ex machina—he just finds out randomly who the blackmailer is and the reason she stops is because she happens to like him — he didn’t accomplish anything difficult or come up with any clever plan or face any real danger.

    I'm thinking a solution would be a little re-structuring so that first he has to figure out who the blackmailer is, and maybe she hates him. You need direct conflict in narrative. Or maybe she does like him but she laughs in his face when he asks her to stop and he then becomes her target—after all, he's a witness now, she needs to shut him up. This raises the stakes he faces. Now he needs to find a way to trick or defeat her through his own cunning or power—in other words he needs to solve the problem that's plagued him from the beginning, his inability to face down these manipulators he's surrounded by.

    Of course depending on what happens during this negotiation session maybe some of this already happens—if so I didn't get that from the synopsis.
     
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  11. keysersoze

    keysersoze Senior Member

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    Actually I was trying a different structure here. The original structure had the second and the third act transposed. And the protagonist, thoroughly frustrated by the way the world treats him, at the end kills the blackmailer boss for the fact that the boss could have just asked him to do his bidding but the boss wanted to 'teach him a lesson'. He is sick and tired of everyone trying to teach him something. Afterwards he claims the woman as well.

    The problem I am facing is the second act problem. Whatever I put in the second act becomes lacking in tightness. I tried the one I posted here thinking it might solve the problem. But it destroyed the premise of the play which is 'destruction brings vitality'. I will go back to the original structure with the acts Man with woman, man with father and man with the blackmailer in this order. This leads to a sloppier man with father act. Here, he is trying to reclaim his individuality. How would he do that? What are the obstacles? and how would the father forbid it? This also complicates the first act where his discomfort with the father will have to be subtler than his thorough dedication for the father. David Mamet says whatever your personal discomfort is, make it your character's personal problem. I think I get too concerned about the world's problems sometimes and I can give that to the MC here.

    I think the reason I am stuck here is that I am finding it difficult to nail down what the MC is made of. He is a rebel in the making at least. But I haven't come across the rebel archetype anywhere. If you have any source to find out more about the rebel archetype, please let me know. At times he rebels without reason as well - as when he insists that L must quit prostitution. Still this motif does not fit into the larger framework of the narrative. How does him being an ineffectual rebel inhibits him from vitality? That he is not focused.

    Also, I am not really sure about the couple falling apart at the end of the Act 1. But I don't know how to end the first act. I think it was a haphazard idea that I stumbled upon in the beginning when I started writing and then haven't really gotten around to consider other possibilities. She is supposed to be present in the third act. So, ending the first act with a fall apart does not make sense. But what role can she play in the end? She can be his aide. But what would she aide him with? I guess the blackmail situation is not sufficiently clear or detailed. The woman can be disappointed with his lack of masculinity in the beginning. But it won't lead to a falling apart. This creates more space for him to play detective in the first act. Now how can he play the detective in the first act?

    I also had this idea once that K and L have a conflict about how to approach the mystery of the blackmailer. He wants to look more on the evidence and she wants him to look more at the people that might be involved. The solution to the puzzle would involve using both kinds of knowledge. But all this becomes pointless when the blackmailer reveals himself anyways in the third act. How can a detective investigation of the blackmail be significant in the story?

    And I truly appreciate your taking interest here.
     
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  12. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Sorry, another double post.
     
  13. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Ok, this explains a lot. I like that you've got a premise, that's good. I'm not quite clear on exactly what kind of destruction you're referring to, or who needs to go through it? It sounds like a symbolic death and rebirth theme, which would mean the MC must in some way undergo destruction, maybe some cherished idea of his must be chucked and he needs to develop a new outlook on life? Just ruminating.

    I was reading a thread recently, and somebody mentioned Robert McKee—it seems like it might have been you? Are you familiar with his book Story? I'm currently re-reading it, the most amazing book on structure I've ever seen period. If you haven't read it you definitely should, and keep it open beside you while you develop any ideas. It's an great reference book to keep looking back at.

    And I think you need to get more specific about rebellion. You need to understand what kind of rebellion he's into and why. Is he just angry and refuses to listen to anybody because he's become resentful and twisted inside? Or does he just get fed up with authoritarian people pushing him around because he comes across as an easy mark? I do get that impression from what you've written. Maybe he goes through a really intense hate everybody kind of rebellion, sees that's too unfocused and doesn't really accomplish anything, and decides he needs to find ways to beat these people at their own games.

    Just throwing out some random suggestions.
     
  14. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I've been reading McKee's Story and he says if you're having story problems it's 9 times out of 10 a lack of serious conflict.

    You said the scene with the father lacks power—maybe K decides he's had enough and stands up to dear old dad, who promptly tosses him out (if he lives with him, if not then something equally shocking). I notice you've got a lot of threats of future destruction, but I don't see any actual destruction (as per the premise). The MC should get knocked around hard, a lot, and manage to somehow come out of it clear-headed and with a new sense of purpose (rebirth in a form more able to cope). And the only thing that drives character growth and story is conflict. At each major turning point things need to be extremely dire for him. Well, they need to alternate, good to bad, then bad to good, you know how it goes. And each one worse than the one before. You need to really put him through the wringer if you want to destroy him, and the other main characters too. They should demonstrate the premise as well, some maybe positively, some negatively.

    Don't make the mistake of making the character yourself, even if in some ways he's based on you. If you do that you won't be able to make a decent story from it. Where did I read recently, Story is like life, but with meaning. I believe it was in Gardner's Art of Fiction. If you;'re writing about your life you need to fictionalize it enough so you can make effective characters who can do what story requires (which is conflict out the ying-yang). :fight:
     
  15. keysersoze

    keysersoze Senior Member

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    @Xoic After reflecting on our conversation for a day, I realize quite a few things I was earlier not clear about. The MC is a rebel archetype and most of his rebellion remains off the mark for most of the play. Under greater and greater pressure on him from people around him, his focus improves and ultimately he reaches a place where he just does what he needs to do without cooking the excess of fuss he was creating throughout the play.

    This includes accepting that he loves the woman who has been in the flesh trade despite who she is, rejecting his own need to seek approval from his father and blaming the father in return, and lastly, killing off the blackmailer for the blackmailer's attempt to teach him a lesson. I think it will take a few weeks for me to work on these before I come to a greater clarity about the finer machinations of the play.

    Yes, I have read Mckee's Story. His confidence around the ideas of story is contagious. Reading him was like, 'Yes! this is what I want to write' every few chapters. It was a phenomenal ride reading Mckee. I told my friend to read him. But he is an idiot. I also found John Truby helpful. Especially where he relates character with the premise. Right now I am reading Campbell's Hero with a thousand faces.
     
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  16. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Excellent! I thought you were aware of McKee. I also liked some things from the Truby book I read, but don't agree with him on many points. I was starting to think maybe the conflict in your play is internal rather than external and I just wasn't understanding it.

    I would still caution you to think about why he's a rebel and what kind of rebellion—if he automatically rebels against all authority that's not very wise, though it could make for a tragic story (like Rebel Without a Cause or something). I'm also a little concerned about him loving the prostitute. That usually doesn't work out at all. The fact that he asked her to quit reminds me of the women who are attracted to the bad boys but expect them to magically change for her, and then wonder why he keeps abusing her and she keeps putting up with it. Though a decision like that might go well with the rebellion, maybe he's a bit self-destructive and naive about other people. Prostitutes, habitual law-breakers, and addicts don't change—they're broken inside and incapable of truly loving someone. The people who accept them and think they can change are probably codependents and are basically offering themselves to be abused, which I suppose can be seen as a very sacrificial form of love.
     
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  17. keysersoze

    keysersoze Senior Member

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    There is a deep sense of tragedy in the play that I am hiding inside a crime story. The protagonist was essentially good. But he was sabotaged at every step in his life by his father. The father saw him as a vehicle for his own ambition of social reputation(this is a cultural reality around here and I want to address that). The son was doing it until the father emotionally harasses him for the purchase of the (earlier mentioned) house and he trades with insider information. When he brings the money through illegal sources, the father's behaviour changes favourably. This sets him up for a rebellion. He feels betrayed that the father never really cared for the son as a person. He starts doing things forbidden in the household earlier - music, not returning home at night, drinking. The father makes him pay with terminating his sister's education, which K really cared about.

    All this has happened before the play begins. Now the father knows that he did something illegal and can get caught. Father condemns him recounts his failures. K snaps and questions the father back. Father asks him if he plans to behave disrespectfully. K starts explaining his position when the father scolds him badly and tells him to stay in limits. K says he won't. The father slaps him. K dares him to slap him more. Father slaps him more and then he starts condemning his father. He says this is all that the father has for him. He reveals his father's selfishness. The father breaks down and K still does not stop. He mocks the father's vulnerable state (the same way the father mocks his vulnerability in the start of the act). Finally, the father gather himself back and throws him out of the house.

    This is tragic because the father and the son had a good relationship. If only either of them would have listened to the other instead of using the other as a dustbin for emotions, things could have been settled amicably. But that's not drama. Yet I also need to hide all this inside a blackmail drama.

    If he ends up with the prostitute, it's a disastrous decision for him. It will be open ended whether it is a positive thing or if it is the final blow to any possibility of social acceptance for him or even sanity. This brings up questions about the prostitute herself. She is not a prostitute prostitute. She is a bar dancer (a very culture specific profession here). She would sleep with a customer if he is a repeat customer and treats her really well. Generally anyone from K's social class does not approach this class of women in flesh trade. But K suffered from pangs of conscience after he committed the financial crime. This led him to her. More about her some other time.
     
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  18. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Now this sounds like powerful drama! I get the feeling you live in an Eastern or Middle Eastern culture maybe? An honor culture?
     
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  19. keysersoze

    keysersoze Senior Member

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    Yes.
     
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