1. Ryan Elder

    Ryan Elder Banned

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    Switching protagonists partway through..?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ryan Elder, Dec 20, 2016.

    Basically for my story, I have rewritten a the last third so it the antagonist becomes the protagonist. Mostly I had trouble figuring out what do with the protagonist for the last third and how to raise the steaks for him in the last third. He kept getting painted into a corner, I couldn't get him out of.

    However, if I make the antagonist the central focus for the last third, then he gets painted into a a corner by the former protagonist, and he is the one, who is painted into a corner instead. But since he is the villain, and I want the villain to loose, he doesn't to escape the corner he is painted into. He can try, but fail and fall, instead of succeed, and then it's the end.

    I feel this is much better and feels a lot more natural rather than trying to force more obstacles on the first protagonist, for the last third, and just naturally let the villain deal with his, and have him be the main focus and drive. But what do you think? Would readers become jarred if they have to switch who they are focusing on more, or can it be a natural switch, if done right?
     
  2. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Anything can happen if it's done right, but you've set yourself quite a task. How do you define 'protagonist,' just out of curiosity?
     
  3. Ryan Elder

    Ryan Elder Banned

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    I define protagonist by who the reader is suppose to concentrate on the most I suppose.
     
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  4. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Given that your antagonist is an abusive rapist generating audience sympathy for them is going to be pretty tough (and it will read even more like rape apologia than it does now)

    Patterson does it in one of his alex cross books - I think its along came a spider , but tbh its probably the weakest one ive read and comes off really false...
     
  5. Ryan Elder

    Ryan Elder Banned

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    Good point. Perhaps I don't need to generate sympathy, and the reader can enjoy seeing the villain get painted into a corner, and enjoy that the villain fails to dig himself out of it, and gets quashed in the end then. If that's better.
     
  6. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    Why not just think of more obstacles? The last third could be a P chasing A and always just missing him....until A paints himself into a corner that P kind of steered A toward.
    P can cut off certain avenues that A could exploit, thus funneling A into a trap.
     
  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Well, rape apologia appears to be the goal, so...
     
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  8. Ryan Elder

    Ryan Elder Banned

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    But this is pretty much what happens. Instead of P being painted into a corner he has to get out of for the last third, it is now A being painted into a corner, that he can't get out of, and he gets his demise. So that's pretty much what happens, with A being the one painted into a corner. As for P always just missing him, P keeps missing him for the second act, and by the time the third act, comes it's the trap being set for A, constantly painting him more and more into it. So isn't that pretty much the same thing?
     
  9. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    It is not the same thing. You are going to have to come up with a whole third act that is neither all procedure, or boring. Going to be tough. Screenplay right? The third act is roughly 33k pages. 33k pages of a protagonist not doing too much is a tough sell.
     
  10. Ryan Elder

    Ryan Elder Banned

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    But even though A is being painted into a corner, having to overcome more and more obstacles, P is the one causing the obstacles, so isn't him causing the obstacles and trying to keep the upper hand, keeping him busy enough?

    Usually in thriller stories, the P will be the one keep getting painted into corners more and more until the end. Where as in mine, it's the villain for the last third instead, with the P being the one with the paintbrush instead.

    There are some movies that have done this, such as The Sting (1973), where the protagonists, have the upper hand and the antagonist, for pretty much the whole last third, even more per say, cause bringing down the villain was such a challenge, that they needed that much screen time to do it, if that makes sense.

    One of the reasons why I had to trouble with the P being the one who is painted, is because I wanted to leave the story open for a sequel possibility, and because of that, the P is not allowed to get painted into corner, cause if he is to come back for a sequel, he cannot really get into any trouble per say. Unless of course I ignore how he got out of the trouble for the sequel and ignore continuity.

    One example of a movie that does this is Lethal Weapon 2. In that movie, the villains are unstoppable cause they have diplomatic immunity. So the villains get away with killing cops who know too much. The protagonists' Riggs and Murtaugh get fed up with the villains getting away with it, and they decide to march onto the South African soil that they own, and kill them all, since they cannot legally be arrested. The movie ends right there, after killing them all, and you wonder since the protagonists just killed a bunch of diplomats who had immunity, how they are going to get out of this corner they have painted themselves into.

    But then in the sequel, the protagonists are still cops and it is never mentioned how they go to keep their badges after that. So I perhaps could do it that way, where the protagonist, can do whatever is necessary to get himself out of the corners, even if it means heavy legal trouble, but then if a sequel should come along, it's all water under the bridge with no real explanation.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  11. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    No. Chasing would be busy enough. Planning is boring. What will protagonist do for last 30 minutes of movie that will keep audience interested?
     
  12. Ryan Elder

    Ryan Elder Banned

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    Basically the protagonist would be manipulating and tricking the villain into a trap. When you say chasing, what do you mean by chasing? Manipulation is much more effective in setting a trap, than chasing in a lot of cases, isn't it?

    Plus the P isn't planning, he is executing the plan, which is painting the villain into the trap, further and further. Or is that still planning and not executing? I thought that setting and executing his trap, would be interesting to the audience.
     
  13. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    You're very welcome to try it, Mr Elder. Find out for yourself if it works, with experimentation.
     
  14. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    That takes about 2 minutes....unless it is procedure, then it will be boring.
     
  15. Ryan Elder

    Ryan Elder Banned

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    How and why does it it only take 2 minutes? When you say procedure, what do you mean by procedure in this case?

    Like for example, in Season 5, episode 13 of Breaking Bad, Hank came up with a plan to catch Walter White, but it toot Hank almost the entire episode to implement the plan and Walter White could not be caught in 2 minutes. So where does this 2 minute rule come from?
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2016
  16. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    You can't compare an entire tv episode to the third act of a movie. The pacing on the latter is much faster.
     
  17. Ryan Elder

    Ryan Elder Banned

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    Well I could use a movie example then. In the movie High and Low (1963), the cops have a plan they need to execute in order to trick the villain. A sting operation if you will. First they trick the villain putting a false news story in the paper to send him into a panic, and then later on, they send him a blackmail note, making him think that it came from someone else, with forging the writing and all. Then later, they have to get the villain to go a certain place, pick up some drugs, and then deliver them to another place, while following him and what not. It all takes a lot longer than 2 minutes. So when executing a plan to trick the villain into being painted into a corner, to trap him, how is the protagonist suppose to only do it in 2 minutes? High and Low did it in much longer amount of time, cause the cops characters in the movie realized there is no way they can trap the villain in only 2 minutes.
     
  18. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    It seems you've already made the decision Ryan - which is fine- but it does beg the question of why you are asking the question ?

    Incidentally you raise the "stakes" - Steaks are bits of meat
     
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  19. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    Your story's supposed to be a "thriller", isn't it?
     
  20. Jacquesari

    Jacquesari New Member

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    I have tried this in stories before and find it really hard to not seem forced or too revealing. If you use a protagonist for the first half, then maybe (s)he has spent quite a bit of time second guessing what the antagonist is thinking/planning and maybe the reader with them. If you swap it around suddenly you could lose some of that mystery, I guess. Be wary of not giving too much away by doing so.

    You will have to be very clever to make that work, but the idea definitely intrigues me.
     
  21. Ryan Elder

    Ryan Elder Banned

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    Okay thanks. I thought maybe two thirds into the story, a lot of the mystery could be finished, and I could then devote more time to developing the villain and showing more of the villains' point of view. I don't think I need to have the story be a mystery thriller for the entirety of the story all the way to the end, do I? Plus at this point, the reader already knows everything about two thirds in anyway, since I am saving the reminder for building up to a resolution, if that's okay.

    I haven't made up my mind yet. Sorry if I come off as not taking the advice as much, it's just the plan execution only being able to last 2 minutes, goes against lots of works of fiction, and goes against many thriller structures, so if I am going against structure, or forced to make a limitation into 2 minutes, I just want to know why, since other works of fiction had no problem taking more time. So I just wanted to know what it has to be that way for mine particularly.
     
  22. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Because, rape apologia.
     
  23. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    Why are you taking antlad's post as writing law? You keep mentioning this "two minutes", when antlad said "about two minutes" and more if it's police procedure. Which is what this seems to be.
     
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  24. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    From the threads, I thought this was a screenplay.
    If you watch a movie; setting up the bad guy takes about 2 minutes.
    "Hey, we need this, this, this, this done."
    "Ok"
    "Ok"
    "Ok"
    "Ok"
    ...............
    "If anyone is standing in our way, threaten them with ____."
    "Done"
    "Done"
    "Done"
    "Uh, there is a snag. The mayor's daughter is at the museum RIGHT NOW!"
    "Get the museum director on the phone NOW. Tell him to grab that kid and hide her in an office with security."
    "Ok, done."

    That plays out in 2 minutes. Screenplays and Hollywood have every single thing timed.
    Nobody wants to watch a half hour of people making phone calls (procedure). We already know what happens during phone calls. Funneling someone into a trap takes a lot of time and manpower, and can go wrong in a second. It is easy to call a drug dealer and kill him when he shows up. Doing the same to a higher level criminal won't work.
     
  25. Ryan Elder

    Ryan Elder Banned

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    Okay thanks. Yes it's a screenplay. If it should only take about two minutes though, how come the movie High and Low did it in more time to trick the villain into falling into a trap? What if the villain needs more time to be manipulated and tricked than two minutes? I used High and Low as a close example to mine, so what about in that case?
     

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